Partnership to Prevent Flooding in Pittsburgh Neighborhood

Residents in Pittsburgh’s Four Mile Run neighborhood may see reduced street flooding from heavy rains thanks to an innovative green infrastructure project that planners hope will be a model for the rest of the city. The demonstration storm water mitigation project is a collaboration between the Penn State Center: Engaging Pittsburgh and the City of Pittsburgh.

An official ribbon-cutting with Mayor Luke Ravenstahl, Councilman Corey O’Connor, Penn State Center Director Dr. Deno De Ciantis and other community members was held at 10:30 a.m. on Friday, July 20 at 300 Saline St. in the Four Mile Run neighborhood of Pittsburgh, where runoff from heavy rains sometimes floods streets and basements with storm water and sewage.

The mitigation project uses specially designed curbs and planting strips to collect and channel storm runoff. The sidewalks are made of pervious concrete, which allows rainwater to run into the gravel and earth below instead of into the street. The design is intended to prevent large amounts of water from overwhelming nearby streams and storm water systems.

The collaborative project is the fruit of relationships the Penn State Center has built over the years with city residents, community groups, government, and local corporations, De Ciantis said. “Our interest is to promote research-based best management practices to accomplish specific goals identified by our local communities,” he said.

De Ciantis said he hopes the demonstration will encourage the city to use similar green infrastructure in future projects.

Community volunteers and members of the International Union of Operating Engineers, Local 95 planted 12 sweet bay magnolia and serviceberry trees provided by TreeVitalize, and Penn State students and Penn State Center staff planted perennials, grasses and shrubs.

“It’s been a very cool experience, working with both the science and the community,” said Jillian Zankowski, a Penn State intern who is collecting rainwater samples from the project. “It’s been a great asset to the neighborhood.”

The concrete was donated by Bryan Materials Group, which also donated training for city construction workers. The City of Pittsburgh Department of Public Works donated the construction labor.