Nonprofit lands $582,000 grant to transform 2 Wilkinsburg parking lots with rain gardens and bioswales

Tribune-Review – The state Department of Environmental Protection awarded $582,000 to the Nine Mile Run Watershed Association to install natural drainage with rain gardens and bioswales in two Wilkinsburg parking lots.

Underground stomwater storage tanks will also be installed. The gardens, bioswales and storage tanks will catch the runoff that would normally dump into the Monongahela River.

In urban and suburban areas, large amounts of paved and hard surfaces produce lots of stormwater runoff that contains pollutants.

The new drainage project will capture more than 3 million gallons of rain annually, enough to fill five Olympic size pools, said Brenda Lynn Smith, executive director of Nine Mile Run Watershed Association

The municipal parking lots are located at along South and Wallace avenues.

Wilkinsburg Mayor Marita Garrett said, “This project will greatly expand upon efforts to improve our stormwater management while beautifying the borough.”

The community outreach and design phase of the project is planned from May to December with bidding and construction expected next year, Smith said.

The project is a continuation of an ongoing effort to protect Nine Mile Run, which collects stormwater from Wilkinsburg, Edgewood, Frick Park, and parts of Squirrel Hill, East Hills and Penn Hills.

In 2010, Wilkinsburg officials used a $500,000 grant to work with the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy to plant nearly 500 trees throughout the borough to help reduce stormwater runoff, stop stream bank erosion and stop storm sewer overloads.

In addition, the open portion of Nine Mile Run in Pittsburgh’s Frick Park underwent a major stream and wetland restoration between 2003 and 2006.

It was the largest metropolitan restoration in the the country at the time of completion, according to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

That project will mark its 15th anniversary this year, and the association itself will mark its 20th anniversary.

Wilkinsburg Council President Pamela Macklin said the project will complement the borough’s commitment to reducing stormwater flows, including “repairs and maintenance in our parks, sewers and storm drains, and our residents’ commitment to reducing runoff from their homes, planting trees, and expanding environmentally friendly landscapes.”

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