As Pittsburgh and other cities continue to look for ways to reduce pollution in streams and rivers, more and more are looking toward green solutions rather than big gray infrastructure projects.
These are things such as rain gardens, green roofs and permeable pavement. A recent report from the Natural Resource Defense Council (NRDC) finds these sorts of improvements not only benefit the public sector, but also the private sector.
“Helping to solve our urban water pollution and flooding problems can also benefit private property owners,” said Larry Levine, attorney for the NRDC. “For example, retail buildings, office buildings and even apartment buildings.”
They can benefit, according to Levine, from higher property values, increased retail sales and energy savings. The report holds up several "highlight cities" as examples including Chicago and Seattle. Pittsburgh isn’t a highlight city, but another area in the commonwealth is.
“Philadelphia is really one of the leaders nationwide in using green infrastructure,” said Levine. “They’ve got a 25-year plan that they’ve committed to with the Pennsylvania DEP overseeing it and holding them accountable.
Levine said Pittsburgh is moving in the right direction though.
“Pittsburgh has been making efforts over the year, and there’s a real focus on how best to do this now in Pittsburgh,” he said.
ALCOSAN has to come up with ways to eliminate sewage overflow into the rivers during wet weather. An initial plan relied solely on “gray” infrastructure, more traditionally-used methods such as concrete tunnels. But, after public outcry, officials say they are examining green options as well.