When you look out the window of your home, can you see a body of water— a creek, stream or river? Do you ever wonder where all of the water running from your rooftop goes during a rainstorm? Or how often do you think about the wastewater we generate inside our homes?
Very frequently, we watch water rush down our driveways into storm drains during a rainfall. Everyday, we flush the toilet, take showers or wash dishes without thinking about where the water goes next. As long as we don't experience any clogged drains or flooding on our properties, we assume the sewer and stormwater systems are working properly. And in dry weather, for the most part, they are.
However, in Allegheny County (and many surrounding counties in the region), wet weather—rain or snow melt—creates a host of problems throughout the collection system that result in raw sewage flowing into our waterways.
It’s a problem that has plagued cities across the U.S. for decades and the Pittsburgh region is no exception. Since 2004, municipalities have been working to assess, repair and plan for the rehabilitation and long-term operation and maintenance of our sewage and stormwater collection systems, but a true solution requires the involvement of everyone—particularly homeowners—who can make a big impact through small changes within their homes, and on their own properties.
You see, it doesn’t really matter whether a body of water is visible from your window because what each of us does on land is most certainly affecting the quality of our water resources.