Panther Hollow Watershed
Restoring Panther Hollow Watershed
For more than a decade of planning and work, the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy, along with the Allegheny County Sanitary Authority, Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority, and the City of Pittsburgh, will install projects to continue to heal this important ecological area in the city. The Watershed covers 300 acres and includes parts of Squirrel Hill, Oakland and Schenley Park.
In June, the partners began the installation of a meadow between Beacon and Bartlett Streets in Squirrel Hill. The new meadow, which will be flourishing this growing season, plays a key role in reducing the amount of runoff that makes its way into combined sewer pipes. Panther Hollow is a “beheaded ” watershed, meaning the upper boundaries (Squirrel Hill and Oakland) are disconnected from the lower watershed. Rainwater that falls on the upper watershed cannot drain naturally into the lower section.
Like many older cities, Pittsburgh has a combined sewer system, with both storm water and sewage flowing in the same pipe. The system is prone to overflows, with rainfalls greater than ¼ inch triggering large quantities of untreated sewage to discharge into our rivers—a severe source of pollution. The meadow improves the grounds’ natural filtration and reduces the amount of water flowing into the pipes.
The big picture
The meadow restoration is only the first stage. The Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy's plan focuses on completing the restoration by infiltrating rain water where it hits the ground, creating meadow cover, by reestablishing forest canopy, managing invasive plants, and scientifically evaluating the project. To fully heal the watershed will require a great deal of coordination among key stakeholders.
This work not only improves the health and aesthetics of Schenley Park, but also serves as a replicable, best-practice model for restoration work across the region. To produce a holistic watershed plan, the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy solicited public input to weave transit, technological and green infrastructure solutions.
We will post frequent updates on the progress of the project.
What is a watershed?
A watershed is the total area of land that drains into a particular body of water. Watersheds are interconnected and nested within one another. The boundaries of a watershed are its highest points.
Panther Hollow Watershed at a glance
The Panther Hollow Watershed is a 300-acre, historic watershed that includes parts of Squirrel Hill, Oakland and Schenley Park. This watershed has a number of unique features:
- Two of the last remaining above-ground streams in Pittsburgh
- Thousands of people live, work and play in this popular area
- An historic lake that will undergo major restoration
- 10% of surfaces are impervious, 45% is lawn, and 41% is forest
- 72 forested acres that greatly benefit a frequently flooded sewershed