Girty’s Run State of the Watershed: Municipal Representatives & Local Residents Come Together to Celebrate Progress

The Floods

It has been 10 years since flooding in 2007 damaged roadways, homes, and businesses in Millvale. Millvale is at the bottom of the watershed, and water runs downhill. The damage done goes beyond ruined properties- Millvale was given a very short reprieve to cope with the devastating impact of Hurricane Ivan just 3 years before. This is a lot to take in any community, especially one so well loved by its residents.

Source: Pittsburgh Post Gazette

Source: Pittsburgh Post Gazette

With humans, came pavement.

Prior to European settlement, our area was mostly forests, grasslands, and free flowing streams. This landscape allowed rain and snow to soak into the ground and recharge groundwater or eventually make way into streams and rivers. Not only does this process provide somewhere for water to go, but it also cleans and filters water to put back into the system. Streams had room to move and meander as needed to facilitate water flow and sediment movement. During a high flow, water could spread out onto a floodplain, and after flows went down the stream returned to its usual state.

Source: Blue Planet

Source: Blue Planet

Not so today. Buildings, parking lots, sidewalks, roads- water has nowhere to go. This results in the flooding and stormwater issues we face each time it rains. Flooding destroys our homes and businesses, and stormwater destroys our drinking water. We need roads and parking lots, so what do we do?

The Girty’s Run Watershed: McCandless, Millvale, Shaler, Ross & You

All of these communities are in the same watershed. Why does this matter? Watersheds are not bounded by political lines and neither does rainfall, so each community plays a role in improving stormwater and flooding. Effective solutions have been made and will continue to be made by planning interventions on a watershed basis. This means managing development, restoration, and protection based on watershed-not political, boundaries. A watershed is a system, and just like any other system, isn’t it better to understand it in its entirety instead of in fragments?

Representatives from these communities and local residents came together on August 9th to discuss the progress made over the last 10 years, including rain gardens, bioswales, and stream restoration.

Residents learned that everyone plays a role in reducing stormwater and flooding in their neighborhood. Stormwater and flooding directly impact the quality of the water coming out of your faucets, and it is in your best interest to care. Although it is a hefty problem to solve, it is within your power to make an impact. This can be as simple as properly disposing of household chemicals, installing a rain barrel, and planting a tree. Or go for gold: joining a watershed group, install a rain garden, and remove paved surfaces on your property. Whatever you do, it will create a positive impact. If everyone does a little, we can all do a lot.

Many thanks to the communities of McCandless, Millvale, Ross, and Shaler for coming together to engage local residents and show what is possible through collaboration!