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Grant to help buy rain barrels to reduce stormwater runoff in Pittsburgh's East End

| Friday, April 25, 2014, 5:54 p.m.

An innovative project got a $250,000 boost on Friday when the Redevelopment Authority of Allegheny County approved a grant toward the purchase of 400 rain barrels to help control flooding on East End streets during heavy rainstorms.

Project 15206 offers to supply the rain containers to private homes to catch storm runoff. Its goal is to improve water quality by reducing stormwater flows into the combined sewer system in the neighborhoods of Larimer, East Liberty, Highland Park, Morningside and Lincoln-Lemington-Belmar.

Nearly 200 homeowners signed up to acquire the barrels, which are being manufactured from recycled plastic in Erie. The $400 containers will cost residents from $300 to nothing, depending on the homeowner's income.

No projection was provided on how much rainwater will be diverted from the sewer system through the program.

The backers of the project — state Sen. Jim Ferlo, D-Highland Park, Penn State Center-Pittsburgh and the Pittsburgh Community Services Inc. — said there will be tests of the demonstration project, then containers could be installed in June or July.

Project 15206 is a result of flooding in August 2011 near Washington Boulevard in the Highland Park area that cost the lives of Kimberly Griffith, 45, of Plum, her two daughters, Brenna, 12, and Mikaela, 8, and Mary Saflin, 72.

Sam Spatter is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7843.

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