The overall message at the eighth annual 3 Rivers Wet WeatherConference was “keep working together.” The conference speakers stressedregional cooperation to solve Allegheny County’s (Pa.) storm sewer problems andmeet U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) consent decrees.
The two-day conference, held Sept. 27–28 at the Four Points Sheraton Hotelnorth of Pittsburgh, featured expert speakers and an exhibitors hall thatcatered to professionals who deal with storm water concerns, namely collectionand overflows.
Although the information was specific to the region of Pittsburgh andAllegheny County with its 4,000 miles of municipal storm sewer collectionsystems, the conference speakers pointed out that the topics apply to many otherregions that face similar situations in dealing with storm water issues andregulatory concerns. Allegheny County has 83 communities that are at variousstages of assessing its sewer systems.
Nearly 400 municipal officials, engineers, managers, public works directors,wastewater industry professionals and exhibitors attended this year’sconference.
The conference kicked off with keynote speaker and Allegheny County chiefexecutive Dan Onorato, who stressed the cost and strategic benefit of thecommunities working together.
“Municipality sewer systems are only as good as those bordering them,”Onorato says. “Fixing the problem takes a consolidated effort. What kind ofquality control is that if everyone does their own thing?”
The 16 conference sessions ranged in topics from technical aspects of stormsewer management to legislative and financial issues. Also included were casestudies and updates of ongoing projects in the southwestern Pennsylvania area.
Because of the current and forthcoming EPA regulations, 3 Rivers executivedirector John Schombert says that Allegheny County has a lot of asset managementand construction work to do. He noted the importance of trenchless technologiesas a cost-effective and less environmentally damaging method of addressing theregion’s storm sewer issues.
To help the cause, a representative of Pennsylvania state Sen. Jane ClareOrie’s office presented 3 Rivers with a $2 million check. The Allegheny Countydelegation secured the funding for the organization, which will use the money toimplement a regional flow monitoring plan that serves as the next step for thecounty to meet EPA consent orders.
The 55 exhibitors at this year’s conference ranged from engineering andinfrastructure management firms to manufacturers and contractors, all gearedtoward sewer assessment and rehabilitation. A sewer grouting demonstration washeld outside.
In addition to the educational seminars and exhibitors, the conferenceprovided an opportunity for professionals to meet and network with others intheir field.
3 Rivers was created in 1998 as a joint partnership between the AlleghenyCounty Sanitation Authority (ALCOSAN) and the county Health Department. Thenon-profit organization is committed to improving the quality of the county’swater resources by helping communities address untreated sewage and storm wateroverflowing into the region’s waterways.