Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority Taps the Sun to Manage Stormwater

Hollow Lake
Courtesy of PWSA

New solar-powered technology at Panther Hollow Lake will reduce combined sewer overflows.

Pittsburgh, PA – Beginning the week of April 30th, the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority (PWSA) will install a new solar-powered smart valve system at Panther Hollow Lake that uses remote monitoring and adaptive control technology. This innovative stormwater management system will reduce millions of gallons of combined sewer overflows into our rivers and streams each year.

Located in Schenley Park, Panther Hollow Lake was built in the early 1900s for recreational purposes. The lake collects stormwater from the Four Mile Run and Panther Hollow Watersheds and discharges it to the PWSA combined sewer system. On dry days, the stormwater and sewage flows are conveyed to the ALCOSAN wastewater treatment plant. During larger storm events, stormwater flows from the lake often exceeds the capacity of the nearby sewers. We estimate that more than 30 million gallons of sewage and stormwater overflows to the Monongahela River each year from sewers near Panther Hollow Lake. During severe storms, nearby neighborhoods experience flooding.

Once installed, the solar-powered smart valve system will allow lake water levels to rise safely during rain events to store and retain stormwater. After the storm, water is gradually released from the lake. Once the monitoring system is installed, PWSA can continuously monitor and manage the water level of the lake remotely.

“We’re excited to use both modern stormwater and renewable energy solutions at Panther Hollow Lake,” stated PWSA Executive Director Robert A. Weimar. This project will be one of many innovative solutions applied by PWSA across the city to manage stormwater, reduce flooding, and improve the quality of our waterways.”

PWSA and the City of Pittsburgh are implementing a “Green First” program to capture and slow the volume of stormwater during rain events. Slowing the flow of stormwater reduces the frequency and volume of overflow events. The goal is to reduce the total volume of combined sewage that regionally overflows to the local rivers and streams, as well as minimize basement backups and localized flooding within the city.

The remote monitoring technology was developed by OptiRTC Inc., an independent technology company focused on delivering solutions to manage stormwater. Ethos Collaborative and JASE Contracting are installing the control and monitoring equipment. The $80,000 project is funded by PWSA.

For more information about the solar-powered smart valve project, please visit http://www.pgh2o.com/gi-what-we-are-doing and for more information about the restoration of Four Mile Run and Panther Hollow Lake, please visit http://pittsburghpa.gov/fourmilerunproject/index.html.


About PWSA

The Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority (PWSA) is the largest combined water, sewer, and stormwater authority in Pennsylvania, serving 300,000 consumers throughout the City of Pittsburgh and surrounding areas.

Media Contact:

Rebecca Zito, Communications Project Manager, (412) 689-1462, rzito@pgh2o.com