On Pittsburghs far North Side, tucked under the McKees Rocks Bridge, there is an agency that nearly 1,000,000 people rely on every day.
This is the Allegheny County Sanitary Authority ALCOSAN. The Clean Water Agency for most of Allegheny County.
Everyday ALCOSAN recycles up to 250 million gallons
of mixed stormwater, groundwater and sewage, cleaning it up and returning it to the Ohio River, cleaner than the river itself is, and we've been doing that since 1959.
Over the years we have upgraded and updated, investing millions of protecting our neighbors as well as our rivers and creating jobs. Above all, our workers have one mission. Which they carry out 24 hours a day, seven days a week to make our Three Rivers cleaner.
Now we stand on the brink of a new day for our region, working with our 83
municipal partners and their customers, we are creating a better system. We are working together as a region. We are investing in making the system more efficient throughout the region, and we are committed to having the world class clean rivers that our city and region deserve. Together we can make that goal a reality.
Located along the Ohio River on Pittsburgh’s Northside, the Allegheny County Sanitary Authority (ALCOSAN) provides wastewater treatment services to 83 communities including the City of Pittsburgh.
FRANKIE: Yeah, well as a fish I’m built to you know, swim. I wouldn’t say I’m
a world-class swimmer but I’m good. Like, I can get around fine.
REPORTER: Do you have friends?
FRANKIE: Sure—a lot of’em. Because, the three rivers are like, pretty big. I
mean there’s over 50-plus species of us.
REPORTER: I noticed that.
FRANKIE: That’s why ALCOSAN’s so awesome.
FRANKIE: ALCOSAN. They treat all wastewater and make it cleaner going out than it was coming in. And that’s like, a big job. I mean, it’s nice to know they care about our rivers and are trying to make them, you know, better for all of us. Even for those weird things on two legs that use boats and stuff.
REPORTER: So, what can we do to help ALCOSAN keep our waters clean?
FRANKIE: Well, everyone can do their part. I mean, it’s mostly common sense. Like watching what you flush or put down your drains.
REPORTER: For example?
FRANKIE: Well, like old medication…
CATHY CATFISH: Hey, Frankie.
FRANKIE: What’s up, Cathy. What’s that scent?
CATHY CATFISH: You like it? It’s Lawrenceville No. 5. Smells like patchouli oil and quinoa. See ya, honey. Muah.
REPORTER: So, that was rather, um…
FRANKIE: Fragrant? Yeah. Perfume and cologne shouldn’t be put down the drain either. We like to keep our community kind of au natural. That’s French for… something. Also, stuff like, um, lipstick, leaves and grass clippings, trash and paint. It’s mostly common sense but sometimes people like, don’t think much.
REPORTER: The only thing that goes down my drain is water and the occasional leftover grease from coo…
FRANKIE: Cooking grease? That’s a big no-no, dude. You know what it does to your arteries. Like, just imagine that but in our pipes and sewers.
REPORTER: Good point.
FRANKIE: It’s ok. There’s a lot people do that seems kinda harmless. That’s why I’m here. My pals at ALCOSAN like, made me a totally smarter fish. By the way, goldfish funerals. Like, stop flushing them. Give them a proper burial in the backyard like other pets. Rest in peace, Goldie.
MARTY MUSKIE: Yo, Frankie!
FRANKIE: ‘Sup, Marty.
MARTY MUSKIE: Wanna grub? Cousin Eddie’s looking pretty good.
FRANKIE: Ha ha. Thanks, but um, just ate some hot dog buns
over by the Point. Kids on field trips, am I right?
MARTY MUSKIE: Your loss, man. Later.
REPORTER: Did he just…
FRANKIE: Um, so he’s a muskie. He eats like frogs, snakes, birds, even
other muskies. So family parties for him are kind of like a seafood buffet. But I stay on his good side. I mean it’s who he is. Like, let’s all just coexist.
REPORTER: Of course.
FRANKIE: Like I said, the awesome peeps at ALCOSAN just get it. They’ve been
around since 1959 when my Great Great Great Grandfather was like, just a hatchling. As long as they keep doing what they do, me and my friends like Cathy, Marty and Crappie Carl will have like, a really nice place to live.
REPORTER: Did you just say cra…
FRANKIE: Well, yeah. He’s like, a crappie after all.
REPORTER: That’s a rather, un…
FRANKIE: Unfortunate name? Yeah. But hey, he owns it.
REPORTER: Well Frankie, it’s been a pleasure. Thanks for your insight into what goes on down here and how ALCOSAN helps.
FRANKIE: No worries, dude. And if you see my buds at ALCOSAN, tell’em Frankie
A lot goes into our rivers.
Some is not what you’d expect.
Since 1959, ALCOSAN has put our passion for clean water into our rivers, making our waterways cleaner, protecting our health.
With too much rain or snow melt, overflows happen.
ALCOSAN is working to fix this.
This means expanding our treatment plant,
taking responsibility for more sewer lines, and creating the best solutions for the future.
It’s going to take all of us putting something into our rivers, too.
Heart. Passion. Action.
Join ALCOSAN to ensure a cleaner future for our rivers now …
… and for generations to come.
Stand with ALCOSAN.
Follow our progress at 3RiversProud.com
Animated leaf travels through city, past parks, alongside barges, into neighborhoods, past businesses, illustrating overflow and resolution. Music up and under.
They nurture us.
They move us.
And they entertain us.
They sustain us.
They connect us.
And they define us.
Right now, however, our rivers are something else. In trouble.
Too much rain or snow, coupled with an aging infrastructure, stresses our wastewater system.
And that leads to overflows. This doesn’t just harm the environment, it threatens the heart of our region, our identity, our spirit.
You see, our rivers aren’t just our landscape, they are our collective soul.
ALCOSAN has a plan to fix it, the Clean Water Plan.
It’s one of the largest infrastructure projects in our region’s history. And it will take all of us to bring it to life.
Learn more about the Clean Water Plan.
Connect with us on social media.
Help write the next chapter of Pittsburgh’s great story.
And be 3 Rivers Proud.