Help name the new StormWorks rain container! The winner receives one for free ($450 value)!



From March 14th – 28th, StormWorks is soliciting help from creative minds around Pittsburgh to help us come up with a name for our new rain container! The winning selection will receive a free StormWorks property consultation, one 116 gallon ‘still-to-be-named’ rain container, and free delivery/installation (a $450 value!) All contest entries must be received through Twitter, Facebook, or email.

Twitter: @StormWorksPGH, must use hashtag “#StormWorksContest”
Facebook: Like us on Facebook and post your idea to our wall
Email: Use subject line “StormWorks Naming Contest” and send to
We’ve been working with rain barrels for a little over 8 years, field testing new designs, experimenting with new accessories, listening to clients’ feedback, and conducting research. During this time, we’ve been trying to understand and perfect how rain barrels are designed, perceived, sited, and installed. We learned that it is time for an affordable rain collection system designed to fit with the edges, corners, and flat surfaces of a house; the new StormWorks rain container has a slim, modern design that can fit in narrow spaces between houses or shared walkways, behind shrubs, or neatly up against or in a tight area of your house to blend in with your landscape.

Manufactured in Erie, Pa with recycled UV-Stabilized polyethylene, our new container has a capacity of 116 gallons to handle any size roof. It has multiple spigot and overflow openings, a removable mosquito-proof filter basket, and will be available in multiple colors to make it one of the most user-friendly and aesthetically-appealing rain harvesting containers on the market!
We’re gearing up for another busy summer helping Pittsburghers harvest rain water in a responsible way and a creative name is the last piece of the puzzle! Come up with the winning name and get the latest in rain harvesting technology and expertise for free!
Contest Start Date: 3/14/2014 | Contest End Date: 3/28/2014 | Announcement: First week of April
Contact Information: Luke Stamper, StormWorks Sales Manager,, (412) 371-8779 x120, 702 S. Trenton Avenue, Pittsburgh PA 15221.

StormWorks Partnership with Matthews Wall Anchor & Waterproofing Service

Matthews Wall Anchor Service has been serving homeowners in and around Pittsburgh, Youngstown and Cleveland for over 30 years. As a nationally recognized foundation repair and basement waterproofing contractor our services include basement waterproofing, foundation repair, and basement wall repair. Matthews offers a variety of products and services to permanently correct basement and foundation problems.

Matthews Wall Anchor Service is currently offering a very special promotion that promotes greener living for future customers in partnership with StormWorks and the Nine Mile Run Watershed Association. They will be offering a free rainwater property consultation and rain barrel complete with delivery and installation with the qualifying purchase of any water system over $5,000. Our customers will be able to catch and use rain water that comes off the roof, down rain spouts into the water saving system. Each system has an attachment that allows you to use a garden hose with the system. There is the option to add a condenser pump to the end of this system as well. We are thrilled to be offering this promotion, there are so many benefits for our Pennsylvania communities, and for our customers as well.

Benefits of having a rain barrel installed at your property:

  • -Rain barrels save homeowners money on their water bills. Garden and lawn irrigation accounts for 40 percent of residential water use during the summer, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. By using rain barrels, homeowners can save 1,300 gallons of water during the growing season.


  • -Tap water contains inorganic ions and fluoride compounds that accumulate in the soil over time and potentially harm plant roots and microorganisms in the soil. Rainwater does not contain the same additives found in tap water. It benefits plants in your garden by cleaning the soil of salt buildup, thereby promoting an environment conducive to root development.


  • -Rain barrels help reduce the flow of storm runoff. When it rains, runoff picks up soil, fertilizer, oil, pesticides and other contaminants from hard surfaces and landscapes. Storm runoff is not treated and flows directly into streams, lakes and other bodies of water nearby. Runoff fertilizers increase algae growth in lakes, and excess soil alters the habitat for fish. Bacteria can even make lakes and oceans dangerous for recreational activities. Rain barrels capture water that would have swept over a paved surface or lawn, thereby minimizing runoff pollutants.

If you were thinking of obtaining a water system, please consider Matthews Wall Anchor & Waterproofing Services so you can support StormWorks and the work of the Nine Mile Run Watershed Association by getting one of our brand new rain barrels as a free gift!

For more information, please visit their website by clicking on the logo below.

logo brick (2)








Scientists defend storm-water controls

Baltimore Sun Article

By Tim Wheeler

September 20, 2013

Storm drains like this one in Woodlawn funnel rainfall off streets and parking lots, but often flush oil, dirt and other pollution into nearby streams. (Kenneth K. Lam / September 18, 2013)

Storm drains like this one in Woodlawn funnel rainfall off streets and parking lots, but often flush oil, dirt and other pollution into nearby streams. (Kenneth K. Lam / September 18, 2013)

Scientists and others engaged in protecting Maryland’s rivers and streams are rising to the defense of the state’s storm-water management laws in the wake of Harford County Executive David Craig’s call for their repeal. Craig, a leading Republican candidate for governor in next year’s election, said earlier this week that he would push for repeal of at least three state environmental laws, including one requiring property owners in Baltimore City and the state’s nine largest counties to pay a fee for reducing storm-water runoff in their communities.

The fee, which Craig and other critics have dubbed a “rain tax,” is generally assessed based on the amount of pavement and rooftop that property owners have. Craig contends the fees are inconsistently applied and so steep in places like Baltimore that they’ll drive businesses out. But in calling for the fee’s repeal, Craig took aim at the scientific basis for focusing on such “impervious surface.”

“The impervious surface really doesn’t matter,” Craig said. “The rain is going to get through somewhere, somehow.”

Craig also called for repeal of a 2007 law tightening requirements for new development to limit storm-water runoff, and of a 1984 law limiting development near the shore of the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries.

Scientists take issue with Craig over his statement questioning the science behind the storm-water fees.

“Mr. Craig’s comment flies in the face of all available science on the issue, and more importantly, in the face of common sense,” said Andrew J. Elmore, an associate professor at the University of Maryland’s Appalachian Environmental Laboratory in Frostburg.

Hye Yeong Kwon, executive director of the Center for Watershed Protection in Ellicott City, said the connection between impervious surface and stream vitality has been established for years now.

Rainfall runs off pavement and roofs when in an undeveloped setting it would soak into the ground, explained Kwon. Her nonprofit center works with local governments and others to curb the effects of storm water.

“These little streams are taking giant loads of water,” she said, and the runoff surging into them picks up pollutants on the way, as impervious surface acts as both a collector and conduit of dirt, oil, fertilizer, pet waste and other pollutants.

Generally speaking, streams show clear signs of degradation when 10 percent or more of their watershed is covered by pavement and buildings, Kwon said. Besides increased erosion, streams in more developed watersheds experience declines in the number and types of fish and aquatic insects living there, and changes in the basic chemistry of the water.

In some cases, streams begin to lose ground with even less development. Elmore said recent studies show that having pavement and buildings cover as little as 2 percent of a stream’s watershed can hurt brook trout populations, and the pollution-sensitive fish is never found in streams with more than 4 percent of the watershed paved over.

Elmore and Kwon both acknowledge that the costs of reducing storm-water pollution can be daunting, especially for cities and older, more densely developed suburbs. But they contend the effort is critical. Storm-water runoff accounts for about 20 percent of the nutrient pollution fouling the Chesapeake Bay, according to the Environmental Protection Agency, and is the only source still growing.

“The important challenge for science and public policy is to find ways of maintaining economic activity without increasing impervious surface area,” Elmore said.

Read more:,0,3746868.story#ixzz2fRnXHhMu

The First Rain Barrel

StormWorks, the social enterprise rainwater management extension of Nine Mile Run Watershed Association, installed the first rain barrel in Summerset at Frick Park this May. Luke Stamper, Sales Manager for StormWorks, invited Summerset Living to come along on the installation.


Prior to installation, StormWorks met with the homeowners for a property consultation to determine placement of the rain barrels. At a consultation, StormWorks calculates exactly how much water is generated during different sized rain events at each downspout, and then determines what management tools are needed to maximize collection and control. After the consultation, they received approval from the neighborhood review board to ensure that the new rain barrels met neighborhood guidelines. Mr. Stamper is happy to see the neighborhood getting its first rain barrel. He notes, “It’s really nice to have folks that live so close to the the stream doing what they can to help make an impact and help keep the stream ecosystem healthy and thriving.”

Collecting rainwater helps manage rainwater in the watershed by reducing the runoff to storm drains and streams when it rains. It’s an easy way to do your part. The rainwater collected can be used to water gardens. Since outdoor watering can account for 30% more water used in the summer months, using a rain barrel saves money and limits wasting water.

Rain barrels are clearly beneficial to the environment and save homeowners money on their water bill, but they are not particularly attractive. Mr. Stamper suggests that rain barrels can be easily disguised to fit into an existing landscape. They can be strategically placed where they are hidden by landscaping, placed behind two trellises with flowering vines growing to create a living wall, painted to match the color of a house, or you can simply place a potted climbing vine next to them and let nature do the camouflaging.


Those interested in using rain barrels can contact StormWorks. For a $75 consultation fee (that fee is then deducted from the purchase price of a rain barrel), they will meet with residents to determine capacity requirements based on the area of the roof and the downspout locations. They will make recommendations based on the homeowner’s needs and the neighborhood guidelines. Currently, the Review Board has approved a 65 gallon container for rain barrels as long as the overflow is tied back into the current water drainage system. Mr. Stamper hopes that “this rain barrel will be the first of many at Summerset at Frick Park.”

For more information on rain barrels, visit the rain barrel section of the Stormworks website.

StormWorks partners with the Hill House Assocation

Fifth grade student, kayla Kinney, showing off a rain barrel she helped paint. Photo: A. Vitalie

Fifth grade student, kayla Kinney, showing off a rain barrel she helped paint with her classmates this summer.           Photo: A.Vitalie

Beginning in May of 2013, StormWorks, Pittsburgh Green Innovators, and the Hill House Association partnered on a project to install 20 NMRWA 133-gallon rain barrels at the Hill House campus to raise awareness about stormwater management. These barrels will provide a valuable education tool for the community will allow them to control and utilize rainwater more efficiently.

The rain barrels are a part the Hill House’s Sustainable Landscape Plan, designed by Pittsburgh Green Innovators, who partnered with The Penn State Center Sustainable Landscaping Program. The goal is to capture 95% of the stormwater that falls on the 6-acre campus using green infrastructure such as rain barrels, rain gardens, pervious pavement, and bio-swales. The campus project builds on the Hill District’s 2009,“GreenPrint”, plan to re-connect the community with nature, as well as strengthen community relations with the greater Pittsburgh area.

Reene Kredell, a professor from Penn State University working with the Hill House Association on this project, emphasized the importance of design to the students of the Hill House summer program, “Xperience”. The participating students, in grades 5-9, painted the rain barrels, creating functional pieces of artwork to benefit the environment and the community.

Her objective was for the students to recognize the importanceof design in the every day world – everything starts out as a creative idea that is transformed into a functional innovation.

The students began the art project by creating a design concept board made of inspirational magazine pictures and also formed a color scheme. Next, Ms. Kredell, who has a background in dance, had each student dance in front of the group before choosing their paint colors. Kredell, who incorporated dance throughout the project, stated that dancing allows her to connect to the students while simultaneously building their self-confidence and creativity.

The finished rain barrels are all unique, with vivid colors,imaginative ideas, and themes such as geometric design,romance, and nature. StormWorks recently installed the finished rain barrels on the north side of One Hope Square adjacent to the Hill House.

Stop by and check them out!

After 1

For more info about the Hill House Association, visit:

 For more info about Pittsburgh Green Innovators, visit:

If you are interested in a rain barrel, please contact Luke Stamper at 412-371-8779 ext. 120 or or visit the StormWorks website,

Finished Rain Barrels

Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority project inundates planners

By Moriah Balingit and Don Hopey

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

August 1, 2013

The Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority and communities surrounding Pittsburgh face a daunting and costly challenge: how to reduce the amount of untreated stormwater and sewage that’s released into rivers when its outdated infrastructure is overwhelmed following a rainstorm.

But it’s a challenge they’ll have to answer as part of a consent agreement and order from the state’s Department of Environmental Protection and the Allegheny County Health Department. The Allegheny County Sanitary Authority, also known as Alcosan, is under a consent decree from the federal Environmental Protection Agency to reduce its sewage overflows.In addition to Pittsburgh, 82 other communities were required to submit plans and all featured a collaborative approach that will lessen the costs that will inevitably be borne by ratepayers.

But, without a collaborative approach ratepayers would face a much larger price tag, according to John Schombert, executive director of 3 Rivers Wet Weather, which has worked with the city and municipalities to facilitate a cooperative approach to solving the region’s sewer overflow problems. The PWSA has been a leader among municipalities in promoting a collaborative approach to the region’s sewer issues, he said.

PWSA began that lengthy process Wednesday when it submitted a feasibility study to the DEP and to the county health department, the first of many requirements of the consent decree. The Wet Weather Feasibility Study, which ran thousands of pages and weighed nearly 30 pounds, proposes conventional infrastructure upgrades, such as construction of a water tower and widening of pipes.

The submission of the feasibility plans met an end of July deadline set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and are another step toward meeting a federal mandate to significantly reduce the 9 billion gallons of storm-caused sewage overflows into the region’s rivers and streams.The sewer system improvement plans are expensive. Alcosan sent a $2.8 billion package of sewer system improvements to the EPA in January and the PWSA’s plan will cost $165 million to implement.

The feasibility study also commits the city to consideration of so-called “green infrastructure,” such as permeable asphalt, rain gardens and landscaped swales, that retain stormwater and reduce its flow into overburdened sewers. Jim Good, executive director of PWSA, said the authority could have met the requirements solely with “grey” infrastructure including expansion of pipes. But it went above and beyond by not only considering green solutions but also making preliminary plans to actually implement and test them in the Saw Mill Run area.

Nancy Barylak, an Alcosan spokeswoman, said the authority has worked closely with the city and many municipalities to add green infrastructure components to its plans.”We are looking for places where such infrastructure is feasible and where we can partner with the municipalities. We’re not using the term green infrastructure. We’re using source control but green infrastructure is included in that.”







A big issue will be how all the municipal plans are integrated into Alcosan’s, not just for system efficiencies but also for cost savings, Ms. Barylak said. One proposal under discussion is to have Alcosan take over the major “trunk” sewer lines that connect various municipalities and the city to the authority-owned collector system.”They’re looking at trunk lines that are 10-inches in diameter and larger that connect to Alcosan’s main lines in places like Girty’s Run and Sawmill Run,” she said. “But it will be another month before we have any hard numbers on how many miles of those lines we’re talking about.”

Mr. Schombert said an advantage of Alcosan taking over the trunk lines would be to spread the high cost of repairing and maintaining those lines across the Alcosan rate base instead of burdening a few municipalities where the collection lines are located.

While meeting the requirements of dumping less untreated sewage and stormwater in the city will mean cleaner rivers, the cost of the upgrades will largely fall on ratepayers. As work begins, PWSA forecasts it will ramp up a fee that will top off at approximately $100 extra dollars per customers in 15 years.

Alcosan, which submitted its plans to federal authorities six months ago, estimates ratepayers will go from an average of $261 a year in sewage fees now to $800 in 15 years.

PWSA’s plans for grey infrastructure include installing $40 million worth of high-tech filters on outfalls which can act as filtration to separate out debris and other kinds of solids from untreated stormwater and sewage. The authority also proposes building a large holding tank to hold excess stormwater after a massive rainstorm so as not to overwhelm the combined sewage system. In all, the “grey infrastructure” upgrades could total $120 million. When the plan is fully implemented, the authority estimates combined sewage overflows could be reduced by as much as 95 percent.

Mr. Good said if the green infrastructure experiment goes well, the plan could be altered to require less grey infrastructure. Green infrastructure is far cheaper and could help mitigate project costs.”PWSA intends to provide the most environmental benefit per dollar spent,” said Dan Deasy, authority chairman, in a news release. “Green Infrastructure will create jobs, clean rivers, beautify neighborhoods and increase property values.”Mr. Deasy said PWSA will continue to work with regulators, community groups, local governments and Alcosan to “reach a mutually agreeable, innovative and affordable way to improve and protect our region’s water and quality of life.”

The Allegheny County Health Department is tasked with reviewing the feasibility plans for 56 municipalities with sanitary sewer overflows, which are illegal and must be eliminated. Combined sewer overflows are not illegal but must be significantly reduced.

Geoff Butia, chief of the county’s public drinking water and waste management program, said the municipal plans have been streaming in to beat the end of July deadline.”The plans present a feasibility study that evaluates a range of options in costs and time for stopping the sanitary sewer overflows,” Mr. Butia said. “Some of the municipalities have presented consolidated plans. We’ve got the majority in already. The technical reviews will take about a year.”

The EPA has a year to review the $2.8 billion package of sewer system improvements Alcosan submitted at the end of January.



Green Stormwater Solutions from Washington D.C. to Pittsburgh

By Heather Mccalin

Published May 10,2013

Photo Credit DC Water

Washington DC and Pittsburgh have a common trait of being build right by the water, with low lying areas and old infrastructure. When it became necessary for DC to improve its water and sewage systems – like Pittsburgh – the nation’s capital opted for a focus on traditional “gray” options. Tunnels and pipes were the main solution for Washington’s sewage and storm water problems.

But George Hawkins, General Manager of DC Water has worked to convince the district and the EPA to embrace green infrastructure ideas. By reopening the EPA consent decree, DC is on track to becoming a model of sustainable infrastructure.

One of Pittsburgh’s biggest ongoing problems is how to deal with the complexities of storm water systems that run across municipalities and between public and private sewer lines. This week, George Hawkins brings his green infrastructure experience to the Steel City for the Clean Rivers Campaign speaker series Beyond Tunnel Vision

Airing Monday at noon on 90.5 WESA

Source: WESA


Setting a new goal for Seattle’s stormwater managementWords by April Thomas, Pictures: Jen Nance

Mayor McGinn today announced a new goal for managing Seattle’s stormwater runoff by detailing a new effort where polluted runoff will be increasingly managed using natural drainage systems rather than traditional pipe and tank systems.

Mayor Mcginn announcing seatles new stormwater management goal.


The Mayor’s executive order—among the first of its kind in the nation— directs City departments to develop a coordinated approach to significantly increase the use of natural drainage systems to slow and clean polluted waters by filtering the water through vegetation and soil, much like a forest ecosystem does.

“Whenever possible, we should be looking for ways to better manage our stormwater with natural processes and leveraging our drainage investments,” the Mayor said today, announcing a new goal to manage 700 million gallons of stormwater annually with green stormwater infrastructure, by the year 2025. “Seattle residents and businesses care about the environment. And that’s why we are inviting the whole community to join us in this effort.”

City Councilmembers have expressed support for citywide green stormwater goal and the Mayor’s directive. Council will consider the goal in a resolution later this month.

“I am confident this initiative will be another success in the City’s groundbreaking environmental history” said Councilmember Jean Godden, “From implementing the first recycling program in the country to negotiating the first of its kind Consent Decree with the EPA to clean up our waterways once and for all, we’ve always been leaders in protecting our environment through smart choices and innovative solutions. I know our residents will be behind this effort.”

Councilmember Mike O’Brien added that relying on a distributed, green approach also builds flexibility and resilience into urban drainage systems to prepare for the uncertainties of climate change and is also well-aligned with other sustainability goals. “We can’t just focus on doing less harm,” he said. “It’s really time to leverage our stormwater investments to help us with other future-looking goals like tree canopy recovery, energy savings, and improving the pedestrian environment of our city. This is a big step in the right direction.”

“Green stormwater projects are high-value infrastructure investments that make our city more sustainable, and lay a strong foundation for meeting the city’s comprehensive planning goals,” said Councilmember Richard Conlin. “It’s absolutely critical that we are making sound investments that will continue to benefit our residents and our urban ecology for generations.”

“Seattle has long been a leader in the deployment of green infrastructure,” said Karen Hobbs, Senior Policy Analyst for the Natural Resources Defense Council. “The Mayor’s announcement not only lays a strong foundation for the city’s ongoing infrastructure planning efforts, but also will be a valuable example for other cities.”

The green stormwater goal will be achieved through a combination of City-led projects on public land, code-triggered private sector investments, and voluntary actions on private property. Given current population growth projections for Seattle, the goal works out to approximately 1,000 “green gallons” of green stormwater infrastructure-managed runoff per resident, per year, and represents about a six-fold increase over the amount of stormwater Seattle currently manages with green infrastructure.

Hundreds of millions of gallons of polluted stormwater runoff flow into Seattle’s creeks, lakes, and Puget Sound every year—runoff that contains bacteria from sewage overflows and toxins like petro-chemicals, pesticides, and heavy metals from our yards and cars. Green stormwater infrastructure helps prevent this pollution by slowing the runoff and using natural systems to filter and clean the water close to where it falls as rain.

Green stormwater infrastructure approaches include bioretention swales, raingardens, stormwater cisterns, pervious pavement, and green roofs. Seattle has been a national leader in the development and application of these technologies for over a decade, and these approaches are now considered best management practices by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Washington State Department of Ecology.

For more information on the city’s green stormwater infrastructure policy and goals, please contact Pam Emerson with the Seattle Office of Sustainability & Environment,, 206.386.4145.

Rain Gardens

StormWorks rain gardens are designed to capture rainwater runoff and keep it from entering your local sewage system. We plant a shallow area near your downspout, driveway or sump pump with deep-rooted native plants and grasses, whose roots “hold on” to the water.