60 Years of ALCOSAN Trivia

For six decades, ALCOSAN has been providing environmentally-friendly wastewater treatment that protects the public’s health, while protecting our region’s rivers, creeks and streams.

Put Your Trivia Skills to the Test

Take a look back at ALCOSAN’s fascinating history of protecting our region’s most valuable resource.

Pittsburgh's combined sewer system was installed in the late 1800s and flowed directly into area waterways
From 1899 to 1907, the city had 130 typhoid deaths per 100,000 people which was the highest death rate in the United States and three times the national average
In 1907, Pittsburgh began sand filtration and chlorination of water supplies, but the city and upstream communities still dumped untreated sewage and industrial waste into the rivers

Sorry, that's incorrect.

Less than two percent of discharges received any treatment causing the river water to turn red from acid mine drainage, mill effluent and other pollutants.

Correct!

Less than two percent of the discharges received any treatment. In fact, the river water turned red because of acid mine drainage, mill effluent and other pollutants.

Allegheny County Commissioners, Alcosan founders

Creation of ALCOSAN

  • On March 5, 1944, the Allegheny County Commissioners created ALCOSAN to direct the county’s sewage treatment program.
  • Audits and sampling to determine the extent of the region’s sewage problems began in 1946.
  • In 1950, the Authority built a pilot plant under the Homestead High Level Bridge to test selected treatment methods.

True or False

Sorry, that's incorrect.

ALCOSAN originally recommended an $82 million treatment system with 91 miles of main interceptor sewers. The Authority changed its recommendation to an $87 million treatment system with 63 miles of intercepting sewers, which was approved for construction in 1954.

Correct!

ALCOSAN originally recommended an $82 million treatment system with 91 miles of main interceptor sewers. The Authority changed its recommendation to an $87 million treatment system with 63 miles of intercepting sewers, which was approved for construction in 1954.

ALCOSAN Construction

  • Construction on ALCOSAN’s wastewater treatment plant began in 1956.
  • Once the project was underway, the team realized the dead weight of the main pump station was not sufficient. As a result, reinforcing bars were used to anchor the floor of the pump station.
  • Construction of the river wall at the plant was the first contract to be completed under the plan.

Sorry, that's incorrect.

Stoppages resulted in 72 days of delays. Construction of the treatment facilities continued into the spring of 1959.

Correct!

Stoppages resulted in 72 days of delays. Construction of the treatment facilities continued into the spring of 1959.

ALCOSAN Today

  • ALCOSAN’s primary treatment plant was officially put into operation on April 30, 1959.

  • Customers were charged $.30 per 1,000 gallons with a minimum charge of $2.50 per quarter and $.50 per quarter for garbage disposals.

  • The design of secondary, or biological, processes began in the late 1960s. Operation of the secondary treatment plant began in 1973.

  • In the 1990s, ALCOSAN began addressing growing concerns about overflows of untreated wastewater into our region’s rivers and wet weather pollution.

Sorry, that's incorrect.

The Clean Water Plan uses a combination of approaches and technologies to keep stormwater out of the system, expand the capacity of the system, reduce overflows and, ultimately, make our waterways cleaner and healthier.

Correct!

The Clean Water Plan uses a combination of approaches and technologies to keep stormwater out of the system, expand the capacity of the system, reduce overflows and, ultimately, make our waterways cleaner and healthier