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PWSA Releases Stormwater Strategic Plan

Opens public review and comment period – now through February 17, 2023

 

Last updated 12/20/2022 at 12:03pm

Saw Mill Run is a beautiful natural resource in Pittsburgh, but water quality issues, erosion, and flooding that can be addressed through improved stormwater management can strengthen neighborhoods and enhance recreational opportunities within the stream.

The Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority (PWSA) has released the Stormwater Strategic Plan and make it available to the public for review and comment. This 60-day period, slated to end on February 17, 2023, will provide the Pittsburgh community with needed time to consider its strategic recommendations and approach to stormwater management.

"The Stormwater Strategic Plan is the first phase of a long-term planning effort to address local stormwater challenges," said Will Pickering, CEO. "The plan considers prevalent stormwater issues such as neighborhood flooding and basement backups while also looking through the lenses of equity and environmental justice. We will over-time build off this plan to deliver effective stormwater solutions across Pittsburgh."

In October 2020, the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority and the City of Pittsburgh launched a global search to develop an innovative stormwater approach to address stormwater management in Pittsburgh.

With support from the Heinz Endowments, the Richard King Mellon Foundation, and the Hillman Foundation, PWSA embarked upon the first phase of this long-term planning effort. In June 2021, Penn Praxis and The Water Center at Penn were selected by PWSA to lead the stormwater planning efforts, with support by a team of sub-consultants having national expertise and a deep knowledge of local water issues.

The Stormwater Strategic Plan is aspirational and should be viewed as a strategic step towards stormwater management. PWSA intends to use the plan recommendations to eventually design and implement specific projects that meet a determined level of service to manage stormwater quantity at a rate PWSA customers can afford. As such, this plan presents a strategy to be used in reaching our final goal of delivering cost-effective and environmentally compliant stormwater service.

The plan builds off past planning efforts by using climate data, previous regional studies, community input, and best practices by peer utilities to provide recommendations that look at stormwater through the four lenses of localized flooding, water quality, equity, and opportunity sites to address one of our region's most challenging problems.

Recommendations:

• Develop and Implement a Communication Framework to Increase Transparency and Understanding of the PWSA Strategy and the Stormwater Fee Value Proposition

• Institute a Joint Task Force to Develop City-Wide Action Plans for More Coordinated and Effective Management of Stormwater

• Analyze Priority Areas for Investment

• Define Initial Investment Strategies

• Establish Guiding Principles and Comprehensive Approach to Stormwater and Flooding "Level of Service"

• Leverage Stormwater Fee Impact Through Public and Private Investment, Innovative Partnerships and Technologies, and Job Training Programs

"The Stormwater Strategic Plan provides an aspirational approach to address significant stormwater challenges in Pittsburgh and will guide future stormwater planning efforts," said Tony Igwe, senior group manager of stormwater. "It provides a framework to determine future areas of investment, prioritizes transparent communication, and outlines recommendations to provide an equitable and affordable level of stormwater protection across Pittsburgh."

This is the first step of a larger public engagement process. In early 2023, they will announce a series of community workshops where PWSA customers, the Pittsburgh community, and stormwater stakeholders will have an opportunity to share ideas, ask questions and provide input into ongoing stormwater planning and implementation. More information about these meetings will be shared in January and details will be available on PWSA's events and meetings webpage.

The Stormwater Strategic Plan is an effort for a cost-effective, inclusive, and sustainable way to address local stormwater problems and ensure all Pittsburgh neighborhoods are represented. They encourage ratepayers, stormwater advocates, and member of the Pittsburgh community to participate in the public comment period and learn by attending upcoming community meetings in early 2023.

For more information about the Stormwater Strategic Plan please visit http://www.pgh2o.com/swsp. Here you can download or view a copy of the Strategic Plan and submit public comments either by using the online webform or by downloading the fillable pdf form and returning to PWSA by email or by mail.

 

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