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  About  the Montour Run Watershed Association

The Watershed


The Montour Run Watershed is located in the southwest corner of Allegheny County, approximately 12 miles from downtown Pittsburgh, and is comprised of portions of five different municipalities.  Current land uses include Pittsburgh International Airport and military aviation, commercial and light industrial/office uses, and residential development.  Historic uses have included agriculture, heavy industry, railroading, and coal mining.


The hydrologic unit code (HUC) for the Watershed is 05030101.  The 303(d) Listing established by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has identified Montour Run as Stream Code 36684 within Watershed 20G, which is a Category 1 Priority Watershed.  DEP has listed 26.18 miles of Montour Run as impaired by two types of sources, with high priority in both categories:

  • Abandoned mine drainage (AMD) for pH and metals.

  • Urban runoff/storm sewers. The cause of this impairment includes nutrients, siltation, organic enrichment, and low dissolved oxygen, some of which stem from discharges of deicing materials from Pittsburgh International Airport.



The Montour Run Watershed Association (MRWA) was incorporated as a Pennsylvania not-for-profit organization in April of 2000.  The Internal Revenue Service approved 501(c)(3) status for the MRWA in the summer of 2000.  The MRWA is intended to be broad-based and to represent as many as possible of the various interests found within the 37-square-mile watershed.  To date the membership of the MRWA has included schoolteachers, engineers, airport and other agency personnel, members of commercial firms, and historians.


The MRWA was established to formalize and extend the work of an informal coalition previously identified as the Montour Valley Alliance.  Formed in 1995 under the leadership of the Hollow Oak Land Trust, the Alliance was concerned with protecting the Montour Run Watershed's natural values while promoting their related economic benefits.


Shortly after its formation, the Alliance engaged the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in an in-depth study of water quality in Montour Run, published in 1997.  The Army Corps study identified areas of significant water quality impairment and highlighted opportunities for remediation of many of the problems.


Motivated by the findings of the water quality study, the Alliance went on to sponsor the Montour Run Watershed Planning Project, hiring a team of professional consultants to develop a River Conservation and Land-Use Plan for the Montour Run Watershed.  The Watershed Plan, which was favorably received at a public hearing in May 1999, includes a set of 61 recommended actions to protect aquatic, biological, land, cultural, and educational resources.


The MRWA sees itself as an organization that is acting as a long-term steward of the Watershed's resources and as a primary force for enhanced quality of life for the entire Pittsburgh Airport area.  It seeks ways to implement the recommendations already identified in the River Conservation and Land-Use Plan for the Montour Run Watershed, and it is providing in-kind services and human resources for promoting and carrying out many of those actions.  It also sees the need to continue building partnerships of citizens, businesses, municipalities, and agencies to further broaden participation.


The Issues


MRWA's goals are stated as follows:  "The Association will address problems such as water quality, flood control, stream bank erosion, and abandoned mine drainage in and along the Montour Run Watershed.  The Association will seek solutions in cooperation with private landowners, other organizations, local municipalities, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and others with an interest in the Montour Run Watershed."


The three generic issues of primary concern to MRWA, broadly stated, are flooding, erosion, and contamination.  Our current approaches to these issues are as follows.


Flooding:  Pursue updates to the Act 167 Stormwater Management Plan for the Montour Run Watershed.  Promote the implementation of Best Management Practices for Developing Areas throughout the Watershed to increase awareness of new methods for minimizing stormwater runoff.


Erosion:  Maintain a watch for vulnerable sections of stream bank.  Continue to sponsor stream bank stabilization projects as needs arise.  Promote the application of fluvial geomorphology-based control methods where applicable.


Contamination:  Continue to sponsor AMD remediation projects that implement the findings of the AMD Cleanup Plan for Montour Run.  Support the improvement of collection and retention methods for aircraft and runway deicing materials by the Pittsburgh International Airport.  Encourage proper maintenance of stormwater runoff retention basins within the Watershed.

PO Box 15509
Pittsburgh PA 15244-0509

2008 Montour Run Watershed Association