What is the Nine Mile Run Aquatic Ecosystem Restoration?

The Nine Mile Run Aquatic Ecosystem Restoration is an aquatic habitat improvement project completed by the US Army Corps of Engineers in 2006. This $7.7 million dollar project is the largest of its kind to be undertaken in a major metropolitan area in the US and involved the restoration of approximately 2 miles of stream.

What techniques were used to restore the stream?

The stream restoration work used techniques such as stream channel reconfiguration, pool and riffle sequences, stream bank stabilization, and native plantings. These improvements allow the stream to better respond to the high volume of water during wet weather and increases and improves habitat for invertebrates, fish, and wetland plants.

One of the major new features of the restoration work was the construction of several wetlands which provide the critical functions of cleaning and slowing stormwater. They are not expected to harbor mosquito colonies because the native plants will also encourage mosquito predators, such as dragonflies, to colonize the area. If you are concerned about West Nile virus, mosquito populations, or see dead crows, blue jays, or hawks you can call the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection at 1-877-PA-HEALTH.

How much did the restoration cost?

The total cost of the restoration was $7.7 million. The $5 million federal contribution to the project was paid through Army Corps of Engineers Section 206 funding. The non-federal match of $2.7 million came from the City of Pittsburgh and the Three Rivers Wet Weather Demonstration Program. The match was met through in-kind services and grants, and paid for the design for the entire project, phase 1A construction, and re-vegetation and invasive plant control.

How long did the Nine Mile Run Aquatic Ecosystem Restoration take?

The stream restoration was completed in 2006. It proceeded in 3 phases:

Phase 1A was completed in 2002. This included initial stream re-channeling, infrastructure improvements such as reducing the impervious surface in the lower Frick Park parking lot, and construction of a soccer field.

Phase 1B began in Spring 2004 and was completed in Fall 2005. This phase included stream channel modifications and improvements to the Fern Hollow/Falls Ravine tributary as well as to the main stem of Nine Mile Run beginning after the concrete lined channel near the Parkway (I-376) and extending to Commercial Avenue.

Phase 2 began in the Fall 2005 and was completed in June 2006. The final phase included stream channel modifications and improvements beginning at Commercial Avenue and extending through the slag heap to just before the CSX railroad crossing in Duck Hollow. 

Who managed and implemented the restoration work?

The restoration was supervised by the Army Corps of Engineers in partnership with the City of Pittsburgh. The contractor hired to complete the construction was Meadville Land Services. Maintenance for the restored stream is the responsibility of the City of Pittsburgh’s Department of Public Works, which manages all major city parks. The Nine Mile Run Watershed Association did not manage or fund the restoration project. Rather, NMRWA runs programs throughout the watershed municipalities that complement the physical transformation of the stream.

Now that the stream has been restored, it must be problem free, right?

No. The aquatic ecosystem restoration is only one piece of what is needed to fully restore the health of Nine Mile Run and its watershed. Improvements in the upper watershed’s residential communities, which are the source of pollution and excessive stormwater, are critical for the long-term health of our watershed community. That is why NMRWA offers citizens the tools needed to make healthy changes at the individual and neighborhood level.

How can I get a rain barrel? Are they still free?

Anyone can get a rain barrel, but they are no longer free. In 2011, after completing the second phase of our grant-supported Rain Barrel Initiative, StormWorks was created. StormWorks is a social enterprise that supports the mission of NMRWA by implementing responsible stormwater management techniques both within the Nine Mile Run Watershed and throughout Allegheny County.

StormWorks specializes in rainwater property consultations, design, installation, and maintenance/repair of rain barrels, design and installation of rain gardens and stormwater flow-through planters, and complete landscape design. All StormWorks products and services range in price, so for more information, please visit the StormWorks website or contact the StormWorks team at (412) 243-7680 or .

How can I help?

Become a Member! Your membership donation is a vital source of support for our programs, helping to restore and protect the watershed and lending strength to our voice as we advocate for green approaches to urban challenges.

You can also like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, and join us for a Stream Sweep or other event in the watershed.




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