Nine Mile Run blog


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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This spring we have been very fortunate to welcome two talented interns to our team. Each brings unique skill sets based on their education and work experience:

Intern Diana BruceDiana Bruce

Diana is a junior Environmental Science major with a Public and Professional Writing certificate, studying at the University of Pittsburgh. She is working during the spring semester with the Communications team to draft outreach and promotional materials. She is looking forward to expanding her knowledge on environmental issues through this experience!

Intern Yuyun LiangYuyun Liang

Yuyun is working on the GIS data refining, reorganizing, and analyzing. She will collaborate with staff to utilize the GIS data to develop a geodatabase and a web based map. Also, she will work with our Monitoring Coordinator to develop a standard for monitoring data collection and mapping, and with our Urban Forestry Manager collect and analyze GIS data for the developing Watershed Forest Master Plan.

Want to intern with us?

We are looking for talented interns to help out in our various program areas. Interested candidates should read our Internship Opportunities document for more information and application instructions.

High School Summer Internship Program

This summer we are launching a high school summer internship program for stream monitoring! Check out our Summer High School Internship page for more information.

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Have you seen?! Two brand new signs were installed last month in the NMR Restoration Area. After a full 10 years since the competition of the stream restoration, there are now permanent signs to educate all park users of the story. The signs were compiled and designed through a joint effort by NMRWA and the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy. The installation was completed by the City of Pittsburgh Department of Public Works. These signs were made possible through the Rita McGinley grant and the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy.

Fern Hollow Sign

One sign is in lower Frick Park, next to the soccer field, and the other is by the pedestrian bridge along the way to Duck Hollow. See the map below for details.


The signs depict the geography of the watershed and highlight the restoration but also reveal the continued issues of degraded water quality we have documented through monitoring program. There is also a feature on our work in the upper watershed and region to combat the combined sewer overflows.

Bridge Sign

Be sure to check the signs out the next time you’re out on the trails!

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In an effort to prevent your rain barrel from getting damaged during the upcoming cold months, your rain barrel should be winterized. If you haven’t already done so, now is the time to switch over your diverter so your rain barrel is no longer collecting water. It is important to attend to this yearly maintenance task to avoid the problems that can be caused by ice building up in your rain barrel. Below are the appropriate steps to take to ensure your rain barrel is ready for you once spring rolls around again. You can also print out our brief checklist of steps to take to winterize your barrel to print and take with you when you go outside.

1. Drain your barrel.
No matter the style of barrel you have, you should drain as much water out of it as possible. If you own a Hydra rain barrel – drain to lowest hole (on side) using a channel lock to open the plug.

2. Keep the spigot of the rain barrel open.
If your barrels has the spigot with the red handle (below left), turn the handle so it is in line with rest of spigot. If your barrel has the brass spigot (below right), turn it completely counter-clockwise to open fully.


3. Flip the switch on your diverter.
To turn barrel to the “winter” setting, move the tab on the diverter from the side going to the barrel to the side that is is attached to the bottom of the downspout, and the tab is pointing away from the rain barrel (see photo). In the spring, you will need to flip the metal tab to the side of the diverter that goes towards the rain barrel.

NOTE: if you don’t have a diverter, you must either re-attach your downspout or leave your barrel drained and the spigot open all winter. This is not recommended.


4. Check the water pathway.
If your downspout is not going into the sewer or stormwater system (see photo), make sure the water and ice won’t cause damage to your property and the area round the rain barrel.

Don’t let winter precipitation ice up sidewalks or get into foundations cracks.


5. Take your garden hose inside.
As much as we love garden hoses, they don’t always survive the brutal Pittsburgh winters. They do better inside!frozen-garden-hose

6. Cover your barrel if necessary.
If you own a rain barrel that is opened on the top or has a large top surface area, it has the potential to take in water/snow melt during winter months – including StormWorks’ Hydra. To prevent any water from entering the rain barrel, you can:

A. Cover top with a tarp. And/or:
B. Keep spigot open, as instructed in Step 2.

If you have questions, need support winterizing your rain barrel, or need rain barrel assistance in any way, StormWorks provides maintenance services for any size, style, or rain barrel model.

Our service agreement customers will receive two maintenance visits for each year they’re signed up. Schedule your appointment anytime through our online scheduler. We have 1-3 year plans available for all residents.

For more information, please see the StormWorks website.

Thank you!


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