Panther Hollow Watershed
The Panther Hollow Watershed is an ecologically significant component of one of the largest sewer sheds in Pittsburgh, the Four Mile Run Watershed. Click to view a map of Panther Hollow Watershed. The historic Panther Hollow Watershed is 384 acres, encompassing part of Schenley Park and the adjacent neighborhoods of Oakland and Squirrel Hill. At its core are the Panther Hollow Run and Phipps Run streams, which join just above Panther Hollow Lake. The lake then drains into the buried pipe that carries the Four Mile Run stream and eventually into the Monongahela River.
Panther Hollow Run, Phipps Run, and Panther Hollow Lake comprise an important natural and recreational area, containing two of the half-dozen remaining above-ground streams within the City of Pittsburgh. In addition, the watershed within the park contains only stormwater pipes. Unlike most of our large rivers, there are no sewer overflows into these two streams. The lack of sewage is a benefit, but losing the headwater streams and their water to urbanization is a problem.
The watershed receives a smaller amount of water than it had historically. However, increases in impervious surfaces both in the park itself and in surrounding neighborhoods have resulted in an increase in the magnitude and frequency of storm water runoff, as well as a reduction in stormwater infiltration and groundwater recharge. Increased runoff results in quicker and more powerful flows, causing drier conditions throughout the watershed, rapidly changing stream channels and degrading water quality. This valley is also impacted by many other urban/suburban ecological problems: invasive and non-native plants, soil erosion, elevated soil nitrogen levels, increasing deer populations, loss of tree canopy, and deferred maintenance of storm pipes.
Ten years ago, the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy, along with the City of Pittsburgh, embarked on the restoration of Panther Hollow. With the help of Department of Public Works (DPW) crews and many volunteers, the Conservancy has made significant progress restoring the forests and meadows of the watershed. We’ve also developed partnerships with local universities and agencies to collect data about the current state of the watershed.
In fall of 2010 the Parks Conservancy received funds to analyze, create a plan for restoration, and install pilot projects to restore the Panther Hollow Watershed; the funding was from the Richard King Mellon Foundation. The Parks Conservancy is very excited about this project; not only will it improve the health of Schenley Park, but it will also serve as a watershed restoration model, installing stormwater best management practices that can be implemented around the region and abate combined sewer overflows into our rivers. To work with us on this project, The Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy selected a team in early 2011 led by Meliora Environmental Design in association with Andropogon Associates, Rothschild Doyno Collaborative, and Cosmos Technologies, Inc. The team's qualifications submittal, is here. The team also created a number of sketchbooks outlining your reactions to the project and the process which will be available on our website soon. The team has completed the watershed restoration plan; you can read the entire document here.
Recently we asked you to answer a survey and share with us your knowledge about watersheds. Check back soon, as we’ll be posting the results of the survey. We have also hosted a number of education workshops over the last two years; please look here for any resources.
Reports, Presentations and Archives
Click here to read more information about the research done on the Panther Hollow Watershed, including reports, presentations, and RFQ archives from the project.