Watershed Project Rolls out the Barrels to East Enders

By Slater, Mary Ann | Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, September 4, 2008 | Go to article overview

Watershed Project Rolls out the Barrels to East Enders


Slater, Mary Ann, Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review


A growing number of East Enders are working to conserve water and improve their community one rain barrel at a time.

Since 2004, the Nine Mile Run Watershed Association has offered homeowners large rain barrels to hook up to their downspouts. Rain fills the barrels, and is then released slowly to the ground via attached hosing.

The 6.5-square-mile watershed includes part of Pittsburgh and the boroughs of Edgewood, Swissvale and Wilkinsburg.

Jeffrey Bergman, director of the association's rain barrel initiative, said the program is aimed at reducing the amount of stormwater runoff in the area's sewer systems.

"The capacity just isn't there because of the age and size of the pipes," Bergman said.

During the first three years of the program, about 500 people in four specific areas of the watershed have received rain barrels. Bergman and his crew made sure the barrels were properly installed, and monitored their usage.

"That monitoring led to us designing and building the barrels locally," Bergman said. Today, the barrels -- which can hold 133 gallons of runoff and weigh, when full, about 1,400 pounds -- are made by a Lawrence County business.

The association has identified four specific study areas within the watershed where it is aiming to get 40 percent of homeowners to use rain barrels for storm water control. Bergman said prior engineering studies have shown that a "measurable" reduction of storm water overflow can be achieved if 40 percent of the residents can capture their runoff and contain it to their properties.

"We are getting close (to that 40 percent) in a couple of the study areas," he said. …

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