You can’t do it on [Pittsburgh] Slopes



This comment has been touted as an excuse to Water retention issues within geographic areas like Pittsburgh for quite some time. I recall being told this by a Presentation Critic who argued against a green infrastructure approach proposed in my final urban design proposal presentation for UDream in 2012.

This critic, while a licensed architect native to Pittsburgh was too skeptical of having something simple and low-tech working in Pittsburgh.

Most of the time it’s a lack of will that stops us from adding value to the systems we already have.

From the provided material for this week’s class I’ve heard of proposals to Engineer the region out of some wastewater issues which have plagued the region. Proposals which are really less of a solution and more of a kicking the can down the road, as they don’t look holistically at why the region is having issues and trying to alleviate some of it at the source.

I’ve also heard of Green Infrastructure projects happening within the region which do tackle the issue on the small scale at the top of the waste water system pyramid, to help mitigate some of the rainwater amounts entering into the combined sewer system.


Bio-swells: the environmentally designed version of a retention pond, which helps water percolate into soil at a slower rate and not create run-off of water and soils into the sewer system is being implemented in portions of Millvale.1

And during the most recent AlCoSan pitch for rate increases to upgrade the sewer system to Federally mandated acceptable levels, Low tech alternatives were proposed in opposition to their plan which would help aid in a decrease of the overall capacity issue happening at peak flow events.2

Alternatives such as rain gardens, water barrels and community gardens, bio-swells, etc. all of which act as ways for capturing some of the flow of water run-off from filling low-lying areas such as Washington Boulevard as well as helping to alleviate any sewer discharge into the River.



  1. Bioswale helps flooding problems, The Allegany Front
  2. Municipalities and Green Infrastructure, WGTE

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