Storm Water Management - Borough of Etna

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Storm Water Management

Please see the Borough Stormwater Management Ordinance – No 1378.  This ordinance is applicable during any new construction and/or new development project, within the Borough of Etna.  There are also guidelines dealing with redevelopment, grading and other aspects of development that can affect storm water in our community.   It also limits were new development can happen within our community.  This ordinance provides for a fifty foot buffer along any watercourse that is within our Community or surrounds our community.  It is important in Etna Borough that we pay close attention to storm water management.  Being the community at the bottom of the Pine Creek Watershed and Sewershed,  we have many issues with storm water problems.  Sewer capacity within the combined sewer system can be exceeded during heavy rain events, causing overflows to our streams is one of those issues.  Localized flooding is another issue we face.  Proper stormwater management regulations can help address these issues.  As can a more proactive approach to storm water source control, which the Borough is actively pursuing where appropriate.  (see next article).

The Etna Green Infrastructure Master Plan Project

This ongoing study was financed by a grant administered by the Pennsylvania Environmental Council (PEC). The objective of the study to assess the feasibility of reducing/eliminating proposed gray infrastructure alternatives by managing the 90% of Typical Year 2003 runoff through the implementation of green solutions within the Borough of Etna, a combined sewer system community. In addition, the project is intended to develop a methodology for communities to evaluate and select basin retrofit options using Shaler Township as a case study.

The project uses innovative site screening techniques developed by Landbase
Systems to conceptually locate and size green infrastructure (GI), referred to as Best Management Practices (BMPs).  The screening started not with availability of sites but identification and prioritization of high yield inlets via the Etna GIS where GI could be most advantageously sited.

The Etna Borough GIS model was used in tandem with available soils, slope,
and other land use/cover data to characterize the individual catchment areas contributing to the Etna combined sewer system. Each of the catchments was associated with a combined sewer overflow.

The calibrated SWMM Etna sewer system model is used to evaluate the impacts
of GI BMPs on the volume and rate of flow during the so-called Typical Year 2003. These impacts would be measured as changes in the frequency duration and volume of overflows.  As the SWMM model extends to the ALCOSAN point of connection, it was possible to estimate the impacts on the volume to be conveyed and treated by ALCOSAN after implementation of a program of GI BMPs in the Borough.

The Borough has already began construction on several of the projects
identified in the Plan.  This is Phase I of the Green Streetscape Project, completed in August of this year.  This project will remove over 500,000 gallons of stormwater from the combined sewer system.

Storm Water Management

In the Borough’s efforts to address combined sewer overflows and storm water run-off problems, the Borough adopted Ordinance No. 1341
, the Residential Downspout Disconnect Ordinance. This ordinance encourages and requires a permit for downspout (roof drains/gutters) disconnection from the combined sanitary and storm water system in Etna. By removing roof drains where appropriate through approved methods you can help yourself, your neighbors and the environment. Etna is a permitted, combined sewer community which means the storm water and sanitary sewage are collected and carried in one system of piping. During heavy rain events, the capacity of the sewer system to carry away sewage can be exceeded. When that occurs, it is called surcharging and overflows occur into the creeks and streams. This same thing can occur in your basement when your roof runoff enters the same pipe that removes your sanitary sewage. During an intense rainfall, your connecting pipe can be overloaded, causing a backup into your basement through the floor drain. Removing the storm water connection to your service lateral can remedy basement flooding problems in many cases.

When storm water makes its way to the sewage treatment plant (Allegheny County Sanitary Authority ALCOSAN), it is treated like sewage, which increases the cost of sewage for all of us. Correctly removing roof drains from the sewer system by approved and permitted methods can potentially reduce the amount of rainwater that enters the sewer system.

Removal may not work for everyone or in every case. The density of the building and types of soils in our community means removing roof drains in homes located in some areas may not be appropriate. You can also look to minimize runoff from new or existing paved surfaces by installing porous pavements instead of traditional asphalt or concrete.

If you are interested in exploring the possibility of downspout disconnection, please contact the Borough Manager for more information at 412-781-0569. You can have a permit application packet mailed out to you, or you can download it. As an incentive for an approved and permitted residential downspout disconnection, a resident will receive a $5.00 quarterly discount on their quarterly environmental sewer surcharge for a three year period based on annual inspections by Borough staff. This discount is per household bill regardless of the number of approved and permitted disconnections at a residence. Rain water collection is a great way to cut down on your water usage as it is great for watering houseplants and garden flowers.

Dumping yard waste (fall leaves, etc.) into any of the streams or storm runs located within the community is illegal. Litter tossed on to the local roads can end up in our combined sewer system and cause serious problems to downstream neighbors. Anyone caught draining oil and other liquids from their vehicle into a storm drain will be prosecuted to the fullest extent that the law allows. See Ordinance No. 1215 for Anti-Dumping Regulations.


Wet Weather Public Outreach Campaign Ads

In an effort to help Southwestern Pennsylvania communities educate their taxpayers about stormwater and sewage overflows during wet weather, 3 Rivers Wet Weather has launched a broad public outreach campaign, which includes a series of educational ads. The ads below were published in the Pittsburgh Tribune Review, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and many local community newspapers in Spring and early Summer 2006. The goal of the ads is to help increase awareness about the problem and give residents practical ways that they can help to protect our watershed. Click on the links below to download a copy af the ads. Adobe Acrobat Reader is required to view the ads.

"What goes into our rivers impacts what goes into your glass."

"Guess where you're really putting your lawn fertilizer."

"Is your roof flushing raw sewage into our rivers?"

"What we feed into our storm drains can poison our rivers."


Green Streets


Etna Green Streetscape Phase 1:
 Phase 1 of the project  is completed- supported by PADEP Growing Greener and US EPA Section 319 Grants with a match by the Borough of Etna.

Acreage Managed: 0.598
Impervious Acreage Managed: 0.470
GSI Management Strategy: Filter/Infiltrate/Remove
Runoff Managed: 0.64 MG/yr (640,000 gal/yr)

This first phase would involve reconstruction of the east side of Butler Street between Bridge and Freeport Streets as well as the reconstruction of the north side of Freeport Street between Butler Street and Union Alley. This phase would involve installation of with 12 street trees, 2300 cubic feet of underground storage that would promote infiltration, 3900 square feet of pervious pavers, downspout disconnection and restatement to new conveyances and related work. Storm water management is essential to water quality in our streams, creeks and rivers. It can also have a dramatic effect on drinking water quality as it reduces pollutants in ground water. As rain water travels over paved surfaces it picks up grit and debris including salt and other pollutants and deposits them into the combined system or into the ground. Collecting this rain water at is source helps to eliminate this from happening.

The project will entails other improvements and traffic calming/safety features: 562 feet of realigned curbing to create bump-outs, 4776 square feet of new concrete sidewalk, 403 feet of 12” wide  decorative ADA compliant grate and trench, tree grates, four new curb ramps and two new inlets to accommodate parking area drainage.

Cost: $475,000 including engineering (Actual to date)

Etna Green Streetscape Phase 2

Acreage Managed:  0.65
Impervious Acreage Managed: 0.425
GSI Management Strategy: Filter/Infiltrate/Remove
Runoff Managed: 0.50 MG/yr  (500,000 gal/yr)

Construction of Phase 2 (Etna Green Master Plan Phase 1 GSI Site 196) has been completed in 2017.

This second phase involves reconstruction of the south side of Butler Street between Winschel and Freeport Streets as well as the reconstruction of the south side of Freeport Street between Butler Street and Cherry Alley. This phase includes planting areas with 9 street trees, 2470 cubic feet of underground storage in two locations that infiltrate collected runoff, a reconstructed street section with 1800 square feet of pervious pavers, and a “Rain Park”. It also includes treatment of collected runoff using a proprietary bio-filtration system and a “green” inlet with a stormwater treatment insert.

The Freeport Street Rain Park is designed to manage runoff from the sidewalk and roofs along Freeport Street representing a total tributary area of approximately 9300 square feet. Of this total area approximately 7300 square feet is impervious surface. The rain park itself is approximately 1900 square feet in area with perennial plantings.  It uses a high rate proprietary infiltration media to treat and retain entrained solids in collected/conveyed runoff in advance of storage. The facility has 842 cubic feet of subsurface storage and is designed to infiltrate the runoff from a 1.25 inches rainfall event over a 72 hour period. The facility has an overflow pipe that directs excessive RO volume to a nearby catch basin on the corner of Cherry Alley and Freeport Street.

The Love Street Facility is designed to manage runoff from the sidewalk and roofs along Butler Street and Praeger Street conveyed by new piping systems as well as roof runoff from adjacent buildings and other contributing areas tributary to the street such as yards and gravel parking areas. The facility has a total tributary area of approximately 20,900 square feet. The Love Street facility is designed to infiltrate 1629 cubic feet of collected runoff stored in modular storm water storage units (MSSUs) installed under 1800 feet of pervious pavers. In order to install the facility it was necessary to re-route the existing sewer. The facility has an overflow pipe that directs excess RO volume to a new manhole on Praeger Street.

By its nature, the Green Streetscape creates a strong linkage between transportation considerations and the Etna urban context.  The Phase 2 of the project therefore includes other improvements and traffic calming/safety features: 554 feet of realigned curbing to create bump-outs, 6280 square feet of new concrete sidewalk, 660 feet of 12” wide decorative ADA compliant grate and trench, tree grates, six new curb ramps and a new inlet to accommodate parking area drainage.

The project removes runoff from roof, sidewalk and other impervious areas from the combined sewer system and routes it through new conveyances for subsurface storage and infiltration. Based on the completed project, the Phase 2 project will manage runoff from a 0.65 acre area of which 0.425 acres is impervious.  This translates into an estimated average of 0.5 MG of runoff managed annually.

Etna School Street Parking Lot Green Infrastructure Project:

Acreage Managed: 1.114
Impervious Acreage Managed: 0.359
GSI Management Strategy: Filter/Infiltrate/Remove
Runoff Managed: 0.54 MG/yr  (540,000 gal/yr)

This Green Infrastructure design and construction project is proof-of-concept demonstration on the use of a proprietary high rate filtration technology  sited to utilize the Quaternary sands and gravels  formation.  It involves the retrofit installation of Green Infrastructure- runoff collection, 200 SF proprietary high rate bio-filtration, 1060 CF subsurface stormwater management storage units with infiltration, plantings- during the resurfacing of the existing 4200 square foot municipal parking lot.  Half of adjacent School Street was reshaped and repaved  to ensure  runoff was directed to the GSI facility. The project will provide partial capture (approx.  0. 54 MG of estimated 1.5 mg runoff contributed annually by this catchment to the Etna Combined Sewer System.  The facility screening identified a high yield inlet via the Etna GIS where GSI could be most advantageously sited. The project is funded by a combination of Borough funds and a 3Rivers Wet Weather Grant.

Full capture from the catchment under the 90/10 target would involve installation of an additional 4500 CF GSI facility in the Walnut Street ROW. The estimated cost for this additional GSI facility would be $190,000. The estimated cost is $ 0.22 per managed gallon.

Cost: $ 74,000 including engineering (Actual to date)


Rain Garden Design and Management Technical Workshop

The Borough of Etna, through its partnership with the Sustainable Lands Program, and a grant from the League of Women Voters, Water Resource Education Network, hosted a technical workshop for the design and management of a rain garden on September 7, 2013.  As part of that program, an actual hands- on approach was taken for the second half of the workshop and a beautiful, sustainable rain garden was installed at the Clarence Fugh Memorial Park and Swimming Pool Facility on Pine Street.  The Borough provided the monetary match and the site location for the rain garden.  The entire program was videotaped, courtesy of Shaler School District and will be posted on several educational and environmental websites.  Instructors included Sandy Feather, Penn State University Extension, Sara Madden, Stormworks, Barton Kirk, Seeds and Roxanne Swann, Audubon Society of Western Pennsylvania.  

About 40 landscape contractors, landscape architects, students and interested parties attended the one day session held form 9 am to 3 pm in the Municipal Building.  The event organizers included Allegheny County, Allegheny County Conservation District, Audubon Society of Western Pa., the City of Pittsburgh, the Pa. Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, 3 Rivers Wet Weather, the Penn State Center, Nine Mile Run Watershed Association/Stormworks, Penn State Extension,  Seeds and the Borough of Etna.   

The agenda included discussion on what a rain garden and bioswale is; how to site these facilities; how to size, design and cost these facilities and the necessary installation methods.  Experts spoke of the appropriate plants for these installations and how to address maintenance of rain gardens.  The afternoon session was an on-site rain garden installation at the Borough’s Swimming Pool Bathhouse.  Two rain gutters were disconnected from the combined sewer system and incorporated into the garden installation.  The rain garden is approximately 180 square feet and is receiving runoff from a roof area of 470 square feet and is designed for a 1 ½ inch rainfall (storm).  Removing storm water from our combined sewer system is something we are dedicated to in our community to help address localized flooding, cut down on sewer overflows to our creeks and rivers and to help reduce the cost of sewage treatment.  While this is one small project, it demonstrates the Borough’s commitment to Stormwater Management within our own community.  If you are interested in addressing stormwater at your own home or business property, contact the Borough Manager at 412-781-0569.  

Below are just some of the pictures of the workshop.  The site is beautiful and functions wonderfully – as was evidenced by the heavy downpours just a few days after installation.  Watch for the video of the entire program which will be posted on this website as well as other websites.
The rain garden at the pool is registered on the Rain Garden Alliance website -



A simple enough question – but if you are like most of us – you stay home and “get things done around the house”. Makes sense, doesn’t it? As we have been sharing with you, Etna is a combined sewer commu-nity – meaning our storm water and waste water goes into the same pipe. As I am sure, you have been reading about the Allegheny County Sanitary Authority, (ALCOSAN), which is under a federal consent or-der to reduce sewage overflows to our rivers and streams during rain events. As an ALCOSAN customer, Etna contributes to these overflows – and owns 8 more overflows into Pine Creek. We are permitted to carry storm water and waste water in the same piping system, but are now also required to reduce our overflows under a federal consent order. This year, the ALCOSAN rate was increased by 17% to help make these reductions. Etna increased their total rate by this amount to cover the 17% increase. It is predicted the rates will increase by an additional 11% a year for the next four years to help address these wet weather capacity problems in our sewer systems.

You can help with this reduction in a number of ways. Rain barrels and rain gardens are examples of good ways of how to keep the rain water out of our sewer system. Consider disconnecting your roof gutter and installing a rain barrel at your home to catch this rain water. The rain water can be reused to water your garden or plants in your home. Etna requires a permit for this installation – which is simple and easy to complete. It is important in our densely populated community to make sure we don’t direct the rain towards someone else’s property and cause foundation flooding to our neighbors. If you go through this program of permitting and properly installing the rain barrel you can receive a $5.00 credit on your bi-monthly sewer environmental surcharge for a three year period! That is $30.00 a year for three years! Call the Borough office for a packet explaining the process or go to the Storm Water Management Page of our website.

Now to our opening line…….…...WHAT DO YOU DO

Some of the things that we all like to do when we are forced to stay indoors is laundering and dish washing. Makes perfect sense, or does it? If our sewers are overloaded during rain events, it is important that dur-ing that rain event, we don’t add additional unnecessary waste water to the system at that time. In other words, adding laundry and dish wash-ing water to the system during a rain event, only adds to our wet weather problem. So why not read a book, watch a movie or just kick back during those rain events and help reduce overloading of the sys-tem! Sounds simple but it is another way for you, the home owner, to help with the problem. These are huge issues with huge price tags that we are all facing in the ALCOSAN system, that will require massive construction projects going forward for years to come, but these simple ideas, if done in conjunction with those larger plans can help make a difference in the water quality in our streams and rivers, which are as-sets to all of us.


The Etna Borough School Street Parking Lot Green Infrastructure Project


Completed in July, this project uses new technology, a unique stormwater best management practice (BMP) that consists of a 20-square-foot high-rate biofiltration system that directs the infiltrated water into a 1,060-cubic-foot stormwater management storage unit. The facility receives runoff from over an acre of contributing area and is projected to capture approximately 540,000 gallons of stormwater annually from the borough’s combined sewer system. This project was developed with funding assistance from the Richard King Mellon Foundation through 3 Rivers Wet Weather to show the value of adding green stormwater features as part of the reconstruction of the parking lot at a more affordable cost.

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