Panther Hollow Watershed to Get Rain Water Pilot Projects

Jul 19, 2013

Schenley Park is getting two water management systems for the Panther Hollow Watershed. With green infrastructure, the pilot projects aim to decrease runoff by either collecting or re-distributing rain water.

Erin Copeland, senior restoration ecologist with the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy, said the recent flooding did not trigger the projects’ initiation. She said it has been in the planning process since 2010.

“We’ve been working on this so that we can make Schenley Park a better functioning and more lovely place to be, but also the Parks Conservancy wanted to embark on this because we wanted to assist with and have a hand in figuring out how to, in some way solve part of the combined sewer overflow problem,” Copeland said.

The project located along Beacon and Bartlett Streets, called an infiltration system, in Schenley Park will be similar to two large, French drains. When the estimated 600,000 gallons of water is caught by the basins, it will gradually be released back into the ground.

The system located at the Bob O’Connor Golf Course is called retentive grading. Copeland said it’s a simple process.

“You dig out on the uphill side, and mound on the downhill side, and so you essentially create these little mounds that are perpendicular to water flow,” Copeland said.  “When water flows into these mounds, it hits (the mounds) and soaks into the ground.”

The whole “kit and caboodle,” from planning to installation costs approximately $1.3 million, and is funded by the Richard King Mellon Foundation, ALCOSAN, and the Environmental Protection Agency, Pittsburgh Park Conservancy, and Pittsburgh’s Public Works Department and Water and Sewer Authority.

A unique component of the project is its "intelligence." Copeland said there are moisture sensors in the ground to monitor performance the systems’ performance.

“It’s not just something where we have ‘We’re installing this and someone has said it’ll work to this level,’” Copeland said.  “We actually have sensors in the ground to let us know specifically how well these things are performing.

Copeland said installation and construction will start in late-summer or early-autumn and be completed by the end of the year.