The nonprofit organization 3 Rivers Wet Weather helped Allegheny County Sanitary Authority conduct a study on the feasibility of using green infrastructure as a cost-effective, long-term sustainable solution for Pittsburgh’s wet weather problems. Water resources engineers from the organization turned to an EPA tool for help identifying specific “best management practices” (BMPs) for the area: EPA’s BMP Siting Tool. “Gray infrastructure” (or man-made traditional infrastructures), the distribution systems and pipes throughout the city, is expensive to replace or upgrade. In order to control some of the storm water overflow and the costs associated with upgrading the gray infrastructure, cities around the country are turning to “green infrastructure” alternatives—such as rain gardens, vegetated areas near streams, and porous pavement—that use or mimic natural hydrologic features to stem the flow of water. Pittsburgh is one of those cities.
The BMP Siting Tool was developed to help experienced engineers identify suitable locations for different types of low impact development techniques or conventional best management practices. Using the BMP Siting tool, 3 Rivers Wet Weather engineers were able to identify the right locations for the right best management practice—or green infrastructure technology—to address the region’s challenges with storm water overflow. The siting tool defines criteria values for green infrastructure technologies, as well as other parameters important to the flow of storm water, including the size of the drainage area.
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