Alcosan will dole out $9 million in grants to support 32 projects intended to keep storm water out of the stressed sanitation system.
The projects in 18 municipalities, including parts of Pittsburgh, are expected to prevent 70 million gallons of rainwater from entering the sewage system. That is less than 1 percent of the 9 billion gallons of water that overflows into the region’s rivers every year.
“If it’s not the largest program in the country, it is right up there at the top,” Williams said.
Alcosan is under a federal consent decree to reduce the amount of sewage entering the rivers during wet weather.
The projects awarded grants offer solutions such as lining sewer pipes to prevent ground water from leaking into the system, diverting runoff from roofs and sidewalks, and rerouting streams that had at one time been diverted into the sewer system.
“Getting the debris out that comes from removing steams is really, really significant and important because that’s a big challenge for us keeping the interceptors clean from all of that debris,” Alcosan board member Brenda Smith said.
Alcosan granted $1 million to a stream diversion project in O’Hara, Sharpsburg and Shaler. The total project is expected to cost $3 million.
Shaler Township Manager Tim Rogers said the project would keep an estimated 20 million gallons from entering the system and all of the debris that comes with it.
“If you go into the Sharpsburg system, there is a great deal of debris in the system that diminishes the amount of flow that Sharpsburg can take," Rogers said. "As a result, they get sewer back ups that goes into the basements of homes."
Applications are being taken for a second round of grants.
Round one grants were capped at $1 million per project. Smith said that cap has been lifted for the second round and a total dollar figure has yet to be set.