ALCOSAN’s GROW Program Creates Cleaner Waterways

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The Allegheny County Sanitary Authority (ALCOSAN) Board of Directors created the Green Revitalization of Our Waterways (GROW) program in a system-wide effort to reduce excess water from entering an already overloaded sewer collection system.  The GROW program is now an essential part of ALCOSAN’s long-term green first plan to create cleaner waterways in compliance with regulations of the federal Clean Water Act and the Pennsylvania Clean Streams Law and to help the municipalities in the ALCOSAN system fulfill their responsibilities under the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection and the Allegheny County Health Department.

Immediately after the GROW program’s creation, the Authority began working with its 83-member municipalities and municipal sewer authorities that send wastewater to its treatment facility. Under the program, any municipality or municipal sewer authority within the ALCOSAN service area was eligible to submit a letter of interest for grants in the first funding cycle, and a new round of inquiries will be accepted annually going forward.

The grants may be used to install green storm water reduction technology, remove streams from the sewer system, reduce the amount of water seeping in through groundwater or to separate out storm sewers. In addition to new projects, some completed projects that were constructed after 2013 also were eligible for consideration for reimbursement.  In addition to financial support, ALCOSAN provides technical expertise and other assistance to municipalities for the projects, all with the aim of removing unnecessary storm water and ground water from the system because it triggers unsanitary overflows.

In January 2017, the ALCOSAN Board of Directors approved $9 million in matching grants for 32 municipal projects that will significantly reduce the volume of sewer overflows within the collection system. Together, these projects in 18 municipalities and 10 City of Pittsburgh neighborhoods will remove nearly 70 million gallons of storm water and ground water from the ALCOSAN system annually.

ALCOSAN is one of the western Pennsylvania region’s premier environmental and public health organizations, treating wastewater for 83 Allegheny County communities, including the City of Pittsburgh. The authority, which is Green by Mission and Green by Choice, enhances the community’s quality of life and safety by working to protect drinking water, rivers, and streams, and making the Pittsburgh region a great place to live, work and play. ALCOSAN’s 59-acre treatment plant processes up to 250 million gallons of wastewater daily and is one of the largest such facilities in the Ohio River Valley.  In 2018, the project was awarded with a NACWA National Environmental Achievement Award.