The Next Page: Designs on Pittsburgh -- memos to the next mayor: "The Next Page: Designs on Pittsburgh -- memos to the next mayor
Ahead of the May 19 mayoral primary, three voices from Pittsburgh's architecture and design community focus on ideas central to the city
Sunday, May 10, 2009
The clean-water imperative -- and a better, greener solution
VIVIAN LOFTNESS: Let's lead the nation in landscaping our way out of the storm-sewer crisis -- to become a truly green city.
Between $2 billion and $4 billion in scarce resources will be needed to address the storm-sewer crisis in Pittsburgh. While Pittsburgh's population is half of 100 years ago, our storm runoff is at historic highs due to increased paving for parking lots and roads, and of course climate change.
The uncontrolled runoff during each storm has resulted in sewage overflows right into our rivers, and those of many older cities -- causing EPA to mandate money be spent (in budget-busting amounts). Yet the only solution on the table is a conventional big-pipe solution (actually two big pipes) that will tear up our streets, our sidewalks and street trees -- and leave a city poor and scarred.
We have a strategic opportunity to landscape our way out of the storm-sewer crisis, to create a world-class city and create a new green "export" industry.
Imagine every drop of rain is captured by new gardens and landscaped surfaces. Imagine tree-lined streets, rebuilt porous sidewalks edged by colorful plantings and parking lots defined by green swales and tree canopies. Imagine green roofs and connected parks, watersheds that are micro "waterfalls in the rain" and riverfronts that are ribbons of indigenous plants. Combined with investment in water-conserving fixtures, these investments in greening our city will eliminate storm water runoff, and ensure that our relined sewers can continue to meet the cities demand for generations..."