When it rains in Pittsburgh, raw sewage flows into our rivers, and an advisory is issued – “Don’t go near the water!” That is not an exaggeration. The authority that treats our sewage in much of Allegheny County, ALCOSAN, signed a consent decree with the federal EPA in May 2007 to upgrade the sewers and separate the storm water system from the sewer system throughout the ALCOSAN area. The estimated price tag for this huge public works project is $4-6 billion. Families in Allegheny County will have to pay for this effort, so it needs to be done right and at the lowest possible cost.
The nature of the storm water project has not yet been decided. To ensure that it is undertaken in the ’greenest’ way possible, the Clean Rivers Campaign has started to educate and mobilize residents of Allegheny County. For example, on November 9 the campaign encouraged more than 100 people to attend an ALCOSAN update on the control of sewer overflows. ALCOSAN officials wer amazed at this unusual turnout of citizens. A series of Clean Rivers Campaign workshops is underway.
The coalition supporting the Clean Rivers Campaign includes: Action United, Clean Water Action, Nine Mile Run Watershed Assoc., Pittsburgh Interfaith Impact Network, Pittsburgh United, and Sierra Club-Allegheny Group.