ShareThis Page

Alcosan's Wet Weather Plan draws criticism

Aaron Aupperlee
| Saturday, Nov. 21, 2015, 12:01 a.m.

A map showing sewage tunnels under the rivers and deep shafts linking them to the area's sewer system prompted renewed criticism of the Allegheny Sanitary Authority's Wet Weather Plan this week.

Grant Oliphant, head of the Heinz Endowments, wrote in a post on the nonprofit's website that Alcosan's plan to press ahead with the “disruptive, expensive and at least partially unnecessary” plan to build massive tunnels under the rivers is “maddening.”

“Why are we letting an uninspired bureaucracy lead us down this unnecessary path, when we can clean up our water by investing in infrastructure that will actually enrich our communities and lives? If we care at all about creating a green and sustainable future in Pittsburgh, we need to have this fight,” Oliphant wrote. “Our region deserves better.”

Jeanne Clark, Alcosan's spokeswoman, said the locations, sizes and number of the so-called drop shafts required have not been determined. Those details and green infrastructure alternatives are the subject of negotiations.

Kevin Acklin, Mayor Bill Peduto's chief of staff, said calls from the community urging environmentally friendly alternatives to the tunnels and shafts have not been heard. Officials from Pittsburgh would like to be part of those negotiations, Acklin said.

Allegheny County Treasurer John Weinstein said the project will have to be a mix of gray and green infrastructure. Rain barrels alone cannot divert the overflowing wastewater. Every driveway in the county would have to be replaced with permeable pavement, he noted.

Alcosan cannot allow the city to join negotiations with the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Justice because then the authority would have to open the meetings to all 83 municipalities in the authority's service area, Weinstein said.

Acklin spoke Wednesday at a Pennsylvania Interfaith Impact Network meeting at which he said Pittsburgh would consider court action to block the Wet Weather Plan and force more green infrastructure.

Aaron Aupperlee is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at 412-320-7986 or

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.