The 17th Annual Open House took place in the Northside on Saturday, Sept. 21.

Story and photos by Haley McMonagle

The Allegheny County Sanitary Authority, known as ALCOSAN, celebrated the plant’s 60th year of operation with its 17th annual Open House on Sept. 21. The wastewater treatment center opened its doors with tours of their plant and laboratory. This event was free to the public and lasted from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The open house included a tour of the plant and various presentations such as “Protecting Reptiles & Amphibians in Your Watershed” and “Introduction to Reptiles and Amphibians of PA.” In addition, ALCOSAN recognized its 2019 “Clean Water Stars,” or members of the community who work to protect rivers and streams, with a special awards ceremony. 

Hands-on activities for visitors helped to teach them more about ALCOSAN and what the organization does in a fun way, while also promoting conservation.  

In the fishing pond, pollution was fished out and prizes were awarded for cleaning up the environment. There was also the EnviroBowl, ALCOSAN”s environmental quiz game, Future Plumbers’ Waterworks, a water activity where kids eight and under explored hydraulics, and a virtual sewer.

The six-acre plant, built in 1959, offered free, reusable bags and water bottles and snacks were served in compostable containers. The event made compost, recycling, and landfill trash easy to dispose of, with clearly labeled bins. 

The event also showcased diagrams of ALCOSAN’s Clean Water Plan. Roughly $2 billion dollars will be invested in the first phase of this expansion, which will likely double the plant’s capacity. Wastewater treatment rates are expected to increase, but by 2027, the ALCOSAN estimates that its plant will be able to manage 600 million gallons of wastewater per day.