Four Mile Run Watershed Green Infrastructure Plan Takes Shape

cloud-311239By Scott Roller and Erin Tobin, Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy


Schenley Park and the neighborhoods that surround it are part of the Four Mile Run Watershed, and with that, comes some astounding figures. One such number is 22,792,000. That’s the number of gallons of water that fall on a 560 acre site within the Four Mile Run Watershed in a single one and a half inch rainfall event.


Where all that water goes is a question that is being addressed by the coordinated efforts of The Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy, The City of Pittsburgh and Pittsburgh Water and Sewage Authority (PWSA). All of these organizations share the common goal of continuing to improve the ecological condition of Schenley Park and its connections to adjacent communities, and furthering the health and function of the watershed around it. Building upon significant collaborative planning work that’s been done with many partners over the past five years, they are developing a conceptual plan for the Four Mile Run Watershed that fully considers the important contexts of stormwater management and the needs of surrounding neighborhoods—with Schenley Park and greenspace as the connective tissue at its center. This area encompasses a large portion of Squirrel Hill, all of Schenley Park, the majority of Oakland, and parts of the neighborhoods of Greenfield and Hazelwood, and connects to the Allegheny River.Detailed Schenley


To ensure that the work was begun eyes and ears open, the Parks Conservancy has held two planning sessions with over two dozen stakeholders to gain their perspective and input in creating a successful conceptual design. With regional stakeholders at the table, nationally renowned experts in fields critical to the project have been brought on board, including the community development and civic engagement team at Jackson/Clark Partners, the engineering firm of Burns McDonnell and landscape architecture and urban design team Phronesis.



The conceptual design by Phronesis is driven by the intention to develop a holistic “green infrastructure first” urban planning process, focused on identifying opportunities that support resilient infrastructure strategies for catalytic community redevelopment in Pittsburgh. Their green infrastructure framework for Four Mile Run has three focused concepts: disconnecting the Panther Hollow Watershed from the sewer with a long term ecological restoration of Panther Hollow Lake, demonstrating a green street with Schenley Drive, and daylighting the Panther Hollow Lake outfall into a new stream valley through Junction Hollow.



The design team has calculated that with green infrastructure interventions, the Four Mile Run watershed has the capacity to capture 19,682,000 gallons of rainfall per single inch and a half storm event, drastically easing strain on our sewage system, reducing flooding and erosion, and improving the overall health of the Four Mile Run Watershed region.



park-28827We are excited to be an active participant in creating green infrastructure systems throughout the City of Pittsburgh,” said Tim Duggan, Landscape Architect with Phronesis. “We look forward to sharing the collaborative concept plans with the larger community for feedback and input on next steps early this summer.” In the coming weeks, look for information on the next public Four Mile Run Watershed green infrastructure meeting at or contact Parks Conservancy Community Outreach Coordinator Erin Tobin at

about SHUC

Preserving, Improving, and Celebrating the Quality of Life in Squirrel Hill

For over fifty years, the Coalition has been an active and important link in the community. It has served as a sounding board for new ideas, as well as a “watchdog” in the areas of public safety, education, residential quality, the business district, and parks and open space. With its focus on the quality of life in the 14th Ward, SHUC continues to monitor activities and future developments in the community through a range of standing committees.


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