Regional Benchmarks

The Pittsburgh region is continuing to grow in overall environmental quality, but benchmarks show there is still room for improvement. Below are a selection of Pittsburgh Today benchmarks that contextualize Pittsburgh’s environmental quality of life with other benchmark regions.


Air Quality: Better, but not good enough

The number of good air quality days are improving in the Pittsburgh MSA, but still have a long way to go.  “While the skies appear much cleaner than when steel and other heavy industry were the backbone of the region’s economy, it’s pollution the eye can’t easily detect that remains an issue.”

Courtesy of Pittsburgh Today


Water Quality: Levels of Bromide in Pittsburgh’s rivers Rise, Then Fall

From 2008-2009, levels of bromide in the Monongahela River exceeded 720 micro Siemens per centimeter, the threshold at which the taste of the water noticeably changes. In 2011, Carnegie Mellon University and the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority also found higher levels of bromide in the Allegheny and Monongahela.  PWSA took steps at local water treatment plants to rectify the high levels.

Bromide Levels, courtesy of Pittsburgh Today

Bromide Levels, courtesy of Pittsburgh Today

Additionally, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection asked oil and gas producers to stop taking shale gas-produced water discharge to city water treatment facilities because of its high salt discharge — a change that helped the Monongahela and Allegheny rivers recover.

Courtesy of Pittsburgh Today.


Shale Gas Production Rises

Production in the Marcellus Shale play — the most productive shale region in the United States — rose in 2016.

In December 2016, the Marcellus Shale play produced 18.3 million cubic feet of gas per day. The second most productive play, the Permian basin in Texas, produced only 7.4 million cubic feet per day. December 2016’s total capped off a year in which Marcellus shale once again produced significantly more gas than any of the other seven major shale plays across the United States. The Marcellus Shale lies under parts of West Virginia, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and upstate New York.

Courtesy of Pittsburgh Today

Courtesy of Pittsburgh Today

Recent data indicates the trend is spilling over into 2017. The Marcellus Shale is estimated to produce 18.4 million cubic feet per day in January 2017 – slightly more than December’s yield and more than double the production of the next most productive region in the nation.

Courtesy of Pittsburgh Today


Climate Beliefs of Pittsburghers

In 2013, Pittsburgh Today surveyed Pittsburgher’s about their beliefs on climate change.  At that time, Pittsburghers felt powerless to effect change:

  • 79% of residents believed there was little or nothing they could do to solve environmental problems
  • 21.3% felt that they could do a lot to make change

Regarding climate change:

  • 64% of Pittsburghers described climate change as a severe or moderate problem
  • Fewer than 19% didn’t believe it is a problem

Courtesy of Pittsburgh Today