For over a decade, restoration of this key ecological area in Pittsburgh has been taking place.
The Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy has been restoring Panther Hollow Watershed in Schenley Park for over 10 years. The Parks Conservancy, in partnership with Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority (PWSA) and the City of Pittsburgh, has recently expanded this project to also include Four Mile Run Watershed.
What's a watershed?
Understanding this critical area starts with a word: Watershed. A watershed is the total land area that drains into a particular body of water. Watersheds are interconnected, nested (contained) within one another, and their boundaries are their highest points.
The Four Mile Run Watershed encompasses the neighborhoods of Greenfield, Squirrel Hill, Oakland, and Hazelwood. The Panther Hollow Watershed is nested within the Four Mile Run Watershed.
Four Mile Run Watershed has changed drastically over the last century. Land once used for agriculture became neighborhoods and economic centers, while streams that fed Schenley Park were diverted underground. Over time, these changes caused more stormwater to enter our city's overburdened sewer system. This long-term restoration project aims to not only alleviate this stormwater issue, but to improve the health and aesthetics of Schenley Park.
For over a decade, the Parks Conservancy, along with the Allegheny County Sanitary Authority (ALCOSAN), PWSA, and the City of Pittsburgh, have been nursing this ailing watershed back to health. A holistic, top-to-bottom plan includes projects such as large-scale tree plantings, erosion control, and the installation of green infrastructure.
Recent project updates
- Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority (PWSA) will improve the water holding capacity of Panther Hollow Lake in fall 2017 by installing an Opti System. This system employs a "smart" valve at the lake's outlet that uses weather predictions to remotely allow for better control of water levels, allowing the lake to retain an estimated one million gallons of rainwater. Expect some excavation work while this is being installed.
- After gathering input about this critical part of Schenley Park at community meetings and from an online survey that gathered over 350 responses (click here for a summary of the community’s feedback), a preliminary design was presented at a public meeting. Click here for the presentation on the preliminary design from that meeting.
- PWSA released City-Wide Green First Plan, a framework to address stormwater issues by using green infrastructure in areas such as Four Mile Run Watershed.
- The second in a series of community meetings on a concept plan for Four Mile Run was held. See what was presented at that meeting here.
- Retention grading at the Bob O'Connor Golf Course installed to soak stormwater into the ground when it rains.
- Meadow and infiltration trenches installed along Beacon Street. Based on data analysis and modeling through the University of Pittsburgh and Meliora Design, recommended trench improvements will be made by PWSA in 2017 to increase performance. Read the project update here.