Pittsburgh names August “Sewer Awareness Month” in Pittsburgh

Aug. 6, 2021
Throughout August, the city's Water and Sewer Authority will share histories and facts regarding the city's older combined sewer system.

Today the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority and Mayor William Peduto proclaimed that August is Sewer Awareness Month in Pittsburgh.

"Pittsburghers take immense pride in their neighborhoods. Sewers are critical to thriving communities and public health, but we take them for granted. We declared August to be Sewer Awareness Month because we want everyone to understand how vital sewer infrastructure is to a healthy Pittsburgh and we want everyone to do their part to keep the sewers flowing as they are designed to do,” said Mayor William Peduto.

Of the city’s 1,200+ miles of sewer, the system is about 70% combined sewer mains, and 30% is separated sewers. MS4 permits often require cities like Pittsburgh to engage in extensive community engagement campaigns to promote an awareness of stormwater and its effects on the environment.

For Sewer Awareness Month, PWSA is sharing some history and facts about Pittsburgh's water system so Pittsburghers can get acquainted with the engineering marvel that is beneath their feet.

In 1840 Pittsburgh's first sewers were built in Shadyside and Oakland. By 1908 there were 390 miles of sewers in the ground, forming the origins of the system that is still in use today. Most of Pittsburgh’s sewers are over 75-100 years old.

“The Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority is investing over $150 million over the next five years to rehabilitate aging sewer lines and reconstruct critical components of our sewer system so it will serve Pittsburgh for the next 100 years,” said Will Pickering, CEO of the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority. “By celebrating our sewers, we ask each Pittsburgh resident, business owner, and visitor to recognize the essential service our sewers provide that is critical to public health and protecting the environment.”

The flow in the sewers moves from homes, businesses, and storm grates to ALCOSAN treatment plants, where wastewater is treated and cleaned, and then released back into our rivers. Pittsburgh’s sewers mostly rely on gravity to move contents to ALCOSAN treatment plants, but PWSA also has four wastewater pump stations to help move things along.

A video of the mayor's discussion and signing of the proclamation can be found below: