PITTSBURGH – After days of heavy rain and storms in the area, the sun shined brightly on the ribbon cutting, or more correctly stated, valve-turning ceremony for the completion of the Sheraden Park Aquatic Ecosystem Restoration Project, June 1.
The ceremony marked the completion of an idea that began years ago with the partnership between the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Pittsburgh district, the Allegheny County Sewer Authority, the city of Pittsburgh and the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority partnering to solve the challenge of excessive storm and sewer water entering ALCOSAN’s water treatment facility.
"The more storm water we can keep out of the already heavily used water treatment facility, the less stress we add to the facility," said Congressman Mike Doyle.
In order to divert the stream from flowing into the sewer, the project goal was to reroute the pipes and brought 2,100 feet of the stream to the surface. The process reduces the amount of fluid that entered the treatment facility by more than 65,000 gallons a day.
"We took this water source and made it an amenity and not a problem," said Pittsburgh City Councilwoman, Theresa Kail-Smith.
Affecting approximately 20 acres of Sheraden Park, the project eliminated invasive vegetative species and creating 18 vernal pools. These pools are home to more than 44 toad houses within the Chartiers Creek floodplain. Additionally, a 500-foot graded-riparian channel was constructed with four check-dam step pools and a grade-control structure.
"This project checks a lot of boxes," said Mayor Bill Peduto, city of Pittsburgh. "It reduces the amount of combined sewer outflows reaching the treatment facility; it lessens the impact of flooding; and it creates urban green-space where the community can come and enjoy time with their families and friends."
"We are thinking about our kids," said Kail-Smith. "This project provides our kids with an opportunity to have fishing and camping trips, right here in this community park.
The nearly $2 million project, which the federal government provided 65 percent funding, benefits the environment by improving the aquatic habitat in the park, decreasing pollution from CSOs, recharging groundwater, adding erosion control and reducing the amount of invasive species.
The Section 206 Aquatic Ecosystem Restoration project energized a strong partnership between the Corps of Engineers, ALCOSAN and its city partners.
"It is this type of collaboration that we, at the Corps, would like to expand across the Pittsburgh region," said Col. Andrew Short, commander Pittsburgh District. "When we combine our engineering expertise with the expertise of other agencies and companies, we form a formidable team that can shape, change and continue to improve our environment as well as protect and restore our aquatic ecosystem for decades to come."