Highland Park’s popular reservoir walk is closing this month and will remain closed until next spring for repair work and a security upgrade planned by the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority.
PWSA spokesman Will Pickering said the authority would start before month’s end on a $7 million project that includes security cameras, a security guard shack, repairs to a curb-like foundation supporting a decorative railing around the reservoir and upgrades to a drinking water microfiltration plant.
“I know it’s going to be distressing to a lot of residents, but it will be worth it in the end,” said Monica Watt, past president of the Highland Park Community Council. “When this is done we will have an open, uncovered, unfenced reservoir that is a huge amenity to this city and the residents of Highland Park, and it’s going to ensure that we have it for years to come.”
Pickering said PWSA is acting on recommendations from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection. The Highland 1 Reservoir has been closed for two years following a glitch in chlorine levels in the water and major boil water order.
The reservoir provides water to the city’s dense East End neighborhoods. PWSA has been supplying the area since 2017 from other sources.
DEP required PWSA to add an ultraviolet system, which kills potential contamination with light rays, to a microfiltration plant at the reservoir. Pickering said DEP wanted another layer of protection in addition to the plant, which uses filters to remove microscopic contamination.
The agency also required additional security, Pickering said. PWSA is renovating an existing building on site to be used as a guard shack. Guards will be posted there at times, he said. He declined to say when.
Pickering said a concrete base around the reservoir that supports the railing has deteriorated and must be replaced.
“The walkway is going to close to allow us to repair that,” he said. “I don’t have a date for certain yet. When that happens it’s going to be closed until spring 2020. We know that the work is going to begin this month.”
Watts said the walk is highly utilized by neighborhood residents and visitors. She called the closure “painful” but necessary.
“It is a very popular place for people to walk safely with beautiful scenery,” she said. “I think it’s going to cause some distress, but I think in the end it’s the right thing to do.”