Pittsburgh – April 3 – The Western Pennsylvania Conservancy will plant more than 13,000 perennial flowers and other plants with the help of volunteers throughout April that will complete a new bioswale located at the corner of Centre and Herron avenues. The bioswale, installed by the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority (PWSA), is predicted to prevent the overflow of more than 750,000 gallons of water in Pittsburgh’s Hill District.

The 600-foot-long bioswale was installed in an existing Conservancy community flower garden – first planted by the Conservancy in 1993 – that runs along the south side of Centre Avenue starting at Herron Avenue.

“This area of the Hill District is known for its issues with flooding and poor stormwater management,” explained Arthur Demeo, WPC’s director of community greenspace services. “We’re glad to partner with PWSA on addressing these issues using an environmentally friendly alternative.”

Bioswales offer less expensive stormwater-collection alternatives to installing traditional sewer pipes and drains under roadways. Stormwater solutions that have natural features, including bioswales, rain gardens and tree trenches, help to capture, filter and slow the release of stormwater. The bioswale at Centre and Herron avenues uses several stormwater intakes to collect rainwater from the street and channels it through the bioswale. Any remaining rainwater that isn’t absorbed by the bioswale is held in underground storage tanks, allowing the water to slowly dissipate into the ground over time.

Centre and Herron Garden and Bioswale - PWSA

The Centre and Herron Green Stormwater Infrastructure project features a cascading bioswale that will carry stormwater along a series of pools and waterfalls to underground storage tanks. Plants and landscaping will absorb the water and any excess is released to nearby storm sewers.

This project is part of PWSA’s Citywide Green First Plan to manage stormwater, mitigate flooding issues and improve water quality throughout Pittsburgh. This area was selected for green infrastructure improvements after the Conservancy analyzed several sites in 2014.

As part of the garden’s expansion, the Conservancy will plant 25 new trees, 57 shrubs and 13,473 perennials, including blue stars, purple coneflowers and bluebells. The Conservancy will host a series of volunteer planting events throughout April to complete the newly expanded garden and bioswale. Corporate groups and individual volunteers are needed. All plantings begin at 9 a.m. unless noted otherwise. Volunteers can register for a planting event by visiting WaterLandLife.org/register-centre-herron/ or calling 412-586-2324.

  • Saturday, April 21: Celebrate Earth Day this weekend and join the Conservancy for this planting event.
  • Wednesday, April 25: This planting will be followed by a happy hour with free appetizers and discounted drinks hosted by the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy at The Porch in Oakland. Registration for this event is required by April 18 at WaterLandLife.org/events/19296/.
  • Saturday, April 28
  • Saturday, May 5
  • Wednesday, May 9
  • Thursday, May 10
  • Friday, June 8

“We couldn’t maintain 132 flower gardens in 20 counties without the help of some very dedicated volunteers,” said DeMeo. “This project is no different – it won’t be a success without helping hands, so we hope to see you there.”

PWSA will monitor and maintain the newly installed infrastructure, including the bioswale, curb intakes and underground stormwater retention tanks. The Conservancy will care for all green material at the site, including the trees, shrubs and perennials.

“The Western Pennsylvania Parks Conservancy is an ideal partner for this and future green infrastructure projects,” stated Robert Weimar, PWSA’s Interim Executive Director. “They have an experienced and energetic network of volunteers to assist with site planting events, and WPC is able to manage the operation and maintenance of these facilities. Our partnership with WPC is a prime example of how green infrastructure projects can be successful and sustainable.”

Funding for this project was provided by PWSA and the Allegheny County Sanitary Authority (ALCOSAN).

View a map of the Centre Ave. and Herron Ave. garden.


Photos have been made available courtesy of the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy: https://we.tl/cgYt1DnX6K

About the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy:

The Western Pennsylvania Conservancy (WPC) enhances the region by protecting and restoring exceptional places. A private nonprofit conservation organization founded in 1932, WPC has helped to establish 10 state parks, conserved more than a quarter million acres of natural lands and protected or restored more than 3,000 miles of rivers and streams. The Conservancy owns and operates Fallingwater, which symbolizes people living in harmony with nature. In addition, WPC enriches our region’s cities and towns through 132 community gardens and other green spaces that are planted with the help of about 12,000 volunteers. The work of the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy is accomplished through the support of more than 10,000 members. For more information, visit WaterLandLife.org or Fallingwater.org.

About the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority:

The Pittsburgh Water & Sewer Authority (PWSA) is a municipal water and sewer authority serving more than 300,000 people throughout Pittsburgh and surrounding areas in Allegheny County. It is the largest combined water and sewer authority in Pennsylvania, producing an estimated average of 70 million gallons of water daily. PWSA manages and operates the treatment and distribution of drinking water, the conveyance of sewage, and management of stormwater systems serving residents and businesses of Pittsburgh.

Media contact:
Kristen Wishon (Blevins)
Communications Specialist