Nine Mile Run blog


This summer, NMRWA partnered with the Hosanna House to assist in providing environmental education during their annual summer camp at the newly enhanced outdoor classroom. The Hosanna House has provided a fun summer camp experience in the community for kids ages 5 through 14 for years and we were excited to be a part of the growing tradition.

During the three, day-long sessions, campers established a flowering pollinator area by planting dozens of new native plants. To compliment the pollinator garden, the kids also created and decorated tree identification signs for the outdoor classroom area, and bug hotels, which provide shelter for the insects of the garden and woodlands. On the last day of the sessions, the campers focused on identifying elements of habitat and using binoculars to looks for birds; the highlight was finding a sleek Cedar Waxwing.

The campers were able to tie all of this together with a field trip in June to the Nine Mile Run stream in lower Frick Park, learning more about the watershed, plants, and wildlife. NMRWA hopes the campers are now more connected to, and may be more inquisitive about, the natural world around us.

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Do you own a rain barrel? Great! But now what?

Many homeowners are excited to get a rain barrel installed for a number of reasons. But once you have it, how do you ensure you are using it in the best way possible?

The best way to utilize your rain barrel is to drain it regularly. If a rain barrel is full, the second it starts raining, your barrel will start overflowing. While our StormWorks team installs all rain barrels with overflow mechanisms, the point of the barrel is to capture the stormwater from every rain, not just the first rain of the season.

The Stormworks Hydra is a rain barrel with two levels of spigots.

Many residents get a rain barrel so they can water their garden. However, very few gardens need 133 gallons or 116 gallons of water every week, even in the August heat. So how can you ensure a long lasting rain barrel that helps mitigate the negative impacts of stormwater while getting the water you need for your garden?

Some rain barrels have two levels of spigots. The top level is at watering can height, and the bottom one is for hose attachments. But if you install a spigot and hose on both openings, the top spigot can now be your “slow-drain” spigot. Run the hose to the base of a tree or a water-loving plant and let the hose drip continuously. You can still use the bottom hose to water your garden with the remainder of the barrel. If your rain barrel does not have two levels for spigots, consider calling StormWorks for a maintenance visit. We can add spigots on many barrels, and would be happy to help you get the most out of your barrel.

By keeping your barrel mostly empty throughout the season, you are doing more to mitigate stormwater problems in our region while extending the life of your rain barrel.

To see the Hydra and other rain barrel models we offer, please visit our StormWorks product page. If you’d like to see all of our rain barrel varieties in person, head on over to Construction Junction!

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As many of you have followed over the last couple of years, the Rosedale Runoff Reduction Project (RRRP) has been a very large, all hands on deck project for NMRWA. So, with all of the hard work we collectively have put into the RRRP, we were very excited to share what we learned with other clean water based groups at the River Rally. Hosted annually by River Network, the River Rally is a national conference for river and water champions. The four day conference draws hundreds of professionals from across the country and focuses on inspiring and educational workshops.

This year’s conference was in Grand Rapids, MI and gave our staff an opportunity to see what is happening in another Great Lakes area of the country. Both our Design Manager Sara Madden and Director of Policy & Outreach Mike Hiller co-presented along with the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District and Clean Wisconsin. The River Network paired up our two projects for presentation, which they felt they were similar enough to create a comparison city workshop.

The title of the workshop was Neighbor to Neighbor: Building a Movement for GI and Ecological Restoration. Attendees learned the different approaches taken to implementing an impactful green stormwater infrastructure (GSI) project throughout an entire neighborhood. We even created a new game for attendees to play at the end to think strategically about GSI projects.

Mike and Sara had a great time exploring Grand Rapids (which is a beautiful city) and learning about the river restoration project taking place there that will transform their downtown. Also impressive is the fact they have reduced their combined sewer overflows to zero per year – great jobs Grand Rapids!20170510_141348

Lastly, we were able to meet dozens of interesting people from around the country working on similar projects to ours. It was inspirational to hear how they are engaging their communities and empowering them around clean water. We are excited to bring these ideas back to Pittsburgh!

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In early April, Allderdice students and parents partnered with Nine Mile Run staff Maranda, Jared, and Nathan to plant 16 native trees and shrubs adjacent to the Fern Hollow stream in the restoration area of Nine Mile Run. The entire project was student initiated and organized.

Students Julia Strassburger and Angelo Goldberg reached out to us in March to coordinate a service project as a component for a school project. The students very specifically wanted to contribute to the restoration area with native plants. It was perfect timing as the the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy and City of Pittsburgh had just completed the removal of 120 small samplings and 7 mature invasive Siberian Elm trees in the restoration area. The result of this removal left a significant ecological gap to be filled.

Siberian elms are native to eastern Asia and were originally introduced into the US in the 1860s for their hardiness and fast growth in moist areas. The species is still sold today as a windbreak tree. The invasive Elms in the restoration area were treated and cut down, but all debris was left behind to provide wildlife habitat.

Allderdice students and parents worked tirelessly and with care to plant the 16 trees and shrubs and provide caging to protect them from deer browsing.

Allderdice students and parents worked tirelessly and with care to plant the 16 trees and shrubs and provide caging to protect them from deer browsing.

As for the trees and shrubs, our staff chose wetland specific species. The 16 plants included Blackgum, Red Osier Dogwood, and Red Chokeberry. The plants were generously provided by an Anonymous donor and were sourced entirely from the Tree Pittsburgh Heritage Nursery.

In addition to the trees and shrubs installed by the students, the City of Pittsburgh planted 6 Blue Spruces in this area. The ongoing maintenance of the newly planted trees and shrubs will be assigned to the Urban EcoStewards of that area.

Please remain on the trails when near this area as the newly planted plants are very sensitive to disturbance and their future success is extremely critical. Signs have been installed to indicate this as well.

Restoration signs

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Over the years, the Nine Mile Run Watershed Association has worked on a lot of projects throughout the greater Pittsburgh area. Now, you can see all of them on one interactive map that our GIS Intern Yuyun Liang created with ArcGIS Online! This map presents the green infrastructure projects and installations we have completed since 2004, which include:

– Rosedale Runoff Reduction Project Stormwater Management Tree Pits
– Rosedale Runoff Reduction Project Green Stormwater Infrastructure Projects
– Trees
– Rain Barrels installed by our StormWorks team & in the Rain Barrel Initiative (2004-2011)
– Civic and Commercial Stormwater Projects
– Residential Stormwater Projects

Map blog photo

The map also shows the NMR watershed boundary, the Rosedale Runoff Reduction Project boundary, and the NMR culvert system. There is a handy search feature, which allows you to enter an address to see if there are projects near a given address. You can find the details about each project simply by clicking the colored circles, or clicking on the menu items to dig deeper.

Please interact with the map, learn more about our projects, and share them with your community!

Want to Help Populate Our Map?

– Attend one of our tree planting or tree care events
– Add a rain barrel to your home to save money on your water bill and reduce stormwater runoff
– Install a rain garden to beautify your yard and collect rainwater

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