Thinking Upstream…

Thinking Upstream…

Each month, UpstreamPgh sends out a small group of workers and volunteers to collect water quality data within the Nine Mile Run stream that we all know so well. We collect this data to assess the overall health of the stream and to better understand the impact of pollutants on the stream over time. 

Member of UpstreamPgh staff reads water quality measurements with Horiba sensor probe.

Member of UpstreamPgh staff reads water quality measurements with Horiba sensor probe.

Last week, Aaron, our GIS and Communications Program Assistant, and Brendan, our Communications Intern, visited three monitoring locations along the stream to collect water quality data. NMR-3 located at Duck Hollow, NMR-2 upstream of the Commercial St. Culvert, and NMR-1 at the plunge pool below the Braddock Ave. Culvert. At these locations, they collected grab samples to gather data on several parameters, including: 

  • Air and Stream Temperature 
  • pH 
  • Dissolved Oxygen 
  • Specific Conductivity 
  • Turbidity 
  • Dissolved Metals 
  • Nitrogen 
  • Pathogens 
NMR Monitoring Locations map

Map showing the three locations that UpstreamPgh collects monthly grab samples and water quality data in the Nine Mile Run stream.

These samples were then dropped off to Test America and the Wilkinsburg Penn Joint Water Authority for analysis.

The results of these samples provide a snapshot of the water quality in Nine Mile Run at a certain day and time, but the majority of the watershed lies upstream in a myriad of pipes and culverts beneath the streets. 

UpstreamPgh has been involved in monitoring various aspects of the watershed ecosystem since our origin in 2001. We are committed now more than ever to backing our work with quantitative data. As we build more green stormwater infrastructure (GSI) in the upper watershed, the need for site specific data becomes integral in understanding the effectiveness of these systems. We are currently working with a team to develop standardized protocols and implement monitoring equipment at a number of GSI sites around the watershed as they are completed this year.

Monitoring GSI will enable us to quantify gallons captured, managed, and therefore removed from the sewer system at each site. This data will help to determine the effectiveness of GSI projects and will provide insight into how we can continue to build climate resilient communities within the watershed. We aim to make this data available to the public when possible to better inform and educate our watershed communities and various stakeholders on the various benefits GSI provides to our communities and watershed as a whole. 

View of Nine Mile Run at the plunge pool looking upstream

Picture of the Nine Mile Run “Plunge Pool” looking upstream. Location of NMR-1 monitoring site.