It’s important to highlight, underline and bold the first solution proposed in Robert Weimar’s Jan. 27 Forum piece, “Record Rainfall Poses Big Problems for Pittsburgh,” for addressing our region’s pressing stormwater issue: We must stop as much water as possible before it goes into our sewers.
The remarkable amount of rain that fell in 2018 should serve as a reminder that Pittsburgh struggles with its most abundant resource. This is true for average and record-setting years alike — even now, as we recently faced soggy, 50-degree February days.
When rain falls on Pittsburgh, often it funnels directly into our sewers. However, a real movement has begun to leverage our city’s great assets to not only absorb stormwater, but to celebrate and benefit from it. Through the efforts of the City of Pittsburgh, ALCOSAN, PWSA and nonprofit members of the Greenspace Alliance, among others, we are using Pittsburgh’s thousands of acres of parkland and miles of tree-lined streets to better manage stormwater.
Investing in parks and greenspaces (green infrastructure) over gray infrastructure (sewers and cisterns) has far-reaching positive impacts. Parks and greenspaces are not just stormwater sponges — they enhance our quality of life through better air quality, cooler cities and more beautiful communities.
We may not see another year with nearly five feet of rain, but we should anticipate more precipitation with our changing climate. Managing stormwater means fewer flooded basements, more stable hillsides and cleaner rivers. With the right investment, it could also mean a healthier, more livable Pittsburgh.
The writer is the director of community projects for the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy.