About

Environmental Compliance

Please see the below information regarding Pittsburgh Water & Sewer Authority's environmental compliance.

About Our Program

Environmental Compliance

The Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority provides service to more than 300,000 customers throughout the City of Pittsburgh and surrounding areas. We are the largest combined water, sewer, and stormwater authority in Pennsylvania. Our Environmental Compliance program is being developed as the foundation of PWSA’s commitment to operating in accordance not only with the strict requirements of the law, but also in a manner that is consistent with high ethical and professional standards in the delivery of drinking water, wastewater, and stormwater services to our customers.

About Environmental Compliance

PWSA's Environmental Compliance Program consists of organization-wide policies (Ethics, Conduct, Training), as well as a specific Environmental Compliance Manual for the PWSA Water Production System 

PWSA’s Environmental Compliance Manual is used to manage and demonstrate water quality and environmental compliance for PWSA’s water production system including the Aspinwall Water Treatment Plant (WTP), Highland Park Membrane Filtration Plant (MFP), pump stations, reservoirs, and storage tanks. The Manual covers the production of drinking water, disposal of wastes generated during water production, storage and management of chemicals used in water production, permitted stormwater and wastewater discharges, and monitoring and reporting to regulatory agencies. The manual is utilized by PWSA staff during the day-to-day operations of these facilities to meet our compliance obligations. 

The manual currently does not cover PWSA’s water distribution system or our wastewater or stormwater assets; however, we are in the process of expanding the Environmental Compliance Manual to cover all of these assets by 2023.

Environmental Compliance Audit

PWSA has engaged an independent Environmental Auditor who has followed accepted environmental auditing techniques, procedures, and policies in designing and executing an environmental compliance audit of the Aspinwall Water Treatment Plant. PWSA will annually conduct this independent audit to help confirm the effectiveness of the Environmental Compliance Manual, identify compliance issues, and improve our compliance policies and procedures. Please view these reports below.

Stormwater

As heavier and more intense rains are overwhelming our sewer system, stormwater management is a growing concern throughout Pittsburgh. With each heavy rain, sewage overflows into rivers and streams, floods our streets, and backups into basements. To solve the problem of too much stormwater, we are taking a more deliberate approach about the way it is managed across Pittsburgh.

In 2004 the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) issued a consent order to the City of Pittsburgh and other municipalities in Allegheny County. The order directs us to meet the requirements of the Pennsylvania Clean Streams Law of 1937 and the Federal Clean Water Act. We must meet state and federal mandates to reduce the volume of combined sewer overflows and basement backups. This is a serious public health issue that impacts water quality and the health and safety of our residents.

To reduce the amount of water entering the combined sewer system, we are distributing the collection of rainwater into a series of stormwater infrastructure projects across the city. This distributed approach will help to capture, absorb, hold back, and slow the flow of stormwater. These methods use a combination of green and gray infrastructure and integrate into the natural environment. It is a cost-effective approach that will help to create safe, flood-prepared neighborhoods.

About Our Stormwater Strategic Plan

PWSA is engaging a visionary project team led by PennPraxis and the Water Center at Penn to initiate a collaborative community process to develop a Stormwater Strategic Plan. This Strategic Plan will serve as Pittsburgh’s blueprint to address local stormwater challenges. 

The Strategic Plan will build off past planning efforts by using climate change data, community input, and prioritizing public health and wellness to provide a cost-effective, inclusive, and sustainable way to address one of our region's most challenging problems. The plan will identify the priorities and milestones to implement within the next five years while keeping an eye on the future so we can be better prepared for the impacts of climate change. 

Goals of the Master Plan

  • Improve the quality of life for residents by creating a community that is healthier, safer, and more resilient to the impacts of stormwater.

  • Develop cost-effective solutions to improve water quality, reduce street flooding and basement backups, and beautify neighborhoods.

  • Establish guiding principles and the framework to establish a minimum level of storm protection to equitably protect Pittsburgh residents from local stormwater challenges. 

  • Identify short-term stormwater projects using an effective combination of green and grey infrastructure and climate data projections to plan for future projects.

  • Recommend funding strategies and governance models to create a sustainable and more resilient city.

Schedule

  • Project Initiation: June 2021
  • Presentation of Final Plan: June 2022 (anticipated)
  • Plan Implementation: It will take time to implement needed solutions. From the time the plan is completed in June 2022, design and construction to implement the plan’s recommendations will take place over many years and funding will always be limited. 

Wet Weather Plan

In 2013, the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority hosted a series of workshops to begin a discussion about the use of green infrastructure to manage stormwater. These workshops were attended by representatives from the public, private and non-profit sectors with the primary objective to develop a consensus approach to reviewing, recommending and incorporating a plan for the implementation of green stormwater technologies and policies into stormwater management planning for Pittsburgh. 

The discussion recognized a need to identify appropriate leadership and partnerships to move these concepts forward, establishing a stormwater authority for the City of Pittsburgh, and to initiate a community-based education and engagement campaign. It also began setting the stage for the creation of our Citywide Green First Plan and the Saw Mill Run Integrated Watershed Management Plan.