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  • 29 Aug 2018 9:55 AM | Anonymous

    In September 2018, SWEP Three Rivers is reaching for the sky as we welcome Christina Cassotis, Chief Executive Officer of the Allegheny County Airport Authority. As the Airport Authority’s first female CEO, Christina is helping to elevate the reputation of the Pittsburgh Region by embarking on an ambitious project to modernize Pittsburgh International Airport. The $1.1 billion project will right-size the former US-Air hub design to better serve the market and our region.

    Christina’s nontraditional path to leadership has given her solid footing upon which to challenge conventional thinking. She grew up in southern New Hampshire, the daughter of a commercial airline pilot and loved learning about his trips to exotic destinations. While she dreamt of working in aviation like her dad, she did not see herself as a pilot and there were few opportunities for women in the Aviation industry. However, her networking skills and willingness to try new challenges led her to the Massachusetts Division of Energy Resources where she quickly earned respect as a writer at Energy and was hired as director of communications for the Executive Office of Communities and Development. From there Christina made the transition to the aviation industry. She worked at the Massachusetts Airport Authority (Massport) for five years before joining the consulting firm SH&E and then earning her MBA from MIT’s Sloan School of Management—all while working full time, traveling, and raising her son.

    Her work ethic and drive for success were fostered by her hard-working parents—her father experienced the loss of his own father at a young age and the difficulty his family faced made him “determined to raise women who, no matter what, were going to be fine on their own.” Better than fine, Christina has leveraged her years of hard work and experience in the aviation industry to lead the Allegheny County Airport Authority and the results speak for themselves. Since she joined the airport in 2015, it has seen three straight years of increasing growth, including eight new airlines. In 2017, the airport saw nearly 9 million passengers, signaling an 8% increase over the previous year. The same year, the Airport Revenue News named her "Airport Director of the Year" for increasing domestic and international flights and she received the ACI-NA Excellence in Visionary Leadership Award from the Airports Council International – North America (ACI-NA).

    Christina’s vision for a modern airport brings people to the forefront with a goal to provide a fresh and market-savvy presence for Pittsburgh International. Our Conversation with Christina Cassotis, CEO Allegheny County Airport Authority, will be held on September 25, 2018 at 8:00 am at the DoubleTree Green Tree (500 Mansfield Ave., Pittsburgh, PA 15205). We look forward to seeing you at this exciting event! Please visit the SWEP Three Rivers website for event details and to register.

    Photos: Allegheny County Airport Authority Flikr
    Pittsburgh Quarterly
    Next Pittsburgh
    Pittsburgh International Airport

  • 22 Aug 2018 1:34 PM | Anonymous

    Standing at the helm of one of the most important environmental agencies in our region Arletta Scott Williams is celebrating her 20th year as the Executive Director of ALCOSAN while preparing to undertake one of the largest infrastructure projects in recent history in the Pittsburgh region. She, along with her team, are working diligently to complete major changes to a hidden infrastructure system that most people have no idea even exists and yet is essential to ensure the health and prosperity of the Three Rivers region.

    At the same time, SWEP Three Rivers is celebrating our first-year anniversary and, while ours is not as an illustrious history, our path has been entwined with ALCOSAN from the outset. It was Arletta who took the chance on us to lead our first “Conversation With…” event in September 2017 (see photos here) where she challenged us to grow as women professionals and work to create a culture where women succeed not only in the workplace but also in life.

    Our goal in our first year was to feature women leaders in the Pittsburgh region who are achieving success and breaking through the proverbial glass ceiling. Arletta exemplifies this in every facet of her career. She graduated first in her class from Westinghouse High School and then earned a Bachelor of Science degree in metallurgical engineering and materials science from Carnegie Mellon University. She began her career at ALCOSAN in 1984 as a shift engineer and worked her way up through the ranks to Director of Operations and Maintenance. In 1998, Arletta was appointed as the Executive Director for ALCOSAN, making her the first woman and first African American to serve in this position.

    Her team and board members will tell you that is not just her intelligence and work ethic that have made her a success. Rather it is her passion for ensuring that all people have a chance to thrive and grow, along with her commitment to bettering the world around her. Under her guiding hand, ALCOSAN has grown exponentially and now employs more than 400 people. During this time, Arletta saw to it that jobs at ALCOSAN would be open to workers of all backgrounds, starting with entry-level custodial positions all the way up the ranks. Currently, there are seven divisions within ALCOSAN and women lead three of those. The procurement department is managed by a woman who oversees millions of dollars’ worth of contracts every year, and women are the managers in seven departments.

    Arletta is a well-known advocate for advancing the mission of ALCOSAN and supporting community initiatives. In 2016, she was recognized by Greater Pittsburgh YWCA with the Racial Justice Award for business and professional services because of her contributions to the community. Another of her passions at ALCOSAN is the Scholastic Outreach Program, which works with local schools each year to teach children about clean water and the role that each of us play to protect our planet.

    The annual ALCOSAN Open House is an example of her efforts to teach children the importance of environmental stewardship in a family-friendly atmosphere. This year the Open House, which is the region’s largest environmental festival, is scheduled for Saturday, September 15, from 9:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. Joining ALCOSAN in delivering its clean water message, SWEP-Three Rivers is proud to participate with our own demonstration booth where we will feature a hands-on project for school-age children. Join SWEP-Three Rivers as we recognize the important role of ALCOSAN and the leadership of its Executive Director, Arletta Scott Williams, for a fun-filled day for all ages.

  • 8 Jul 2018 10:22 PM | Anonymous

    What we learned: It was a great day for a conversation in the park!

    On a beautiful summer day, SWEP Three Rivers Chapter took our conversation to Allegheny County’s North Park to learn about the Allegheny County Parks Foundation (ACPF) and its dynamic Executive Director, Caren Glotfelty. Established over a decade ago, the Foundation began as a way to raise money for recreational amenities in the County’s nine parks.  Since then, its role has evolved into a true partnership with Allegheny County and its network of Parks. Under Caren’s leadership, the ACPF works hand-in-hand with Allegheny County Parks to identify priority issues, projects, and studies that will benefit the expansive park system, which encompasses 12,000 acres across the nine parks.

    The Allegheny County Parks are popular.

    Little did we anticipate that our third “Conversation With” event would sell out two weeks in advance of the event! If you know Caren, you would agree that it wasn’t just the opportunity to spend the afternoon in the park. SWEP members and newcomers alike came out in droves to hear from Caren, a well-known environmental advocate who spoke passionately about the challenge keeping up with our parks and the broader environment issues facing our region.

    Caren shared that the Allegheny County Parks system was established in the late 1920s by forward thinking County Commissioners and these actions have created long-lasting benefits for residents and visitors. Today our nine parks receive over 20 million visits a year and attract people from the entire region. How do we know this? Caren commissioned a study with Penn State researchers to conduct a statistically valid survey to estimate park usage. This level of usage demonstrates the importance of our parks as a recreational and social outlet. However, this information is essential for the County government to understand so that they can adequately address the demands placed on this important infrastructural and ecological resource.

    We have history to share! North Park and South Park were designed by famed Landscape Architect Paul Riis. Original stone work and structures built in the early days, such as the Boat House in North Park, still remain. Sadly, the years have not been kind to all of his designs, but efforts are underway to restore these beautiful works of landscaped art. Our newest County Park, Hartwood Acres, was a former equestrian estate that was donated to the County. Today, the estate’s beautiful grounds host cultural events, such as concerts, outdoor theater, and yoga, and is home to valuable and historically significant sculptures.

    Relationships are Important.  Over the years, the County has dedicated significant resources to the maintenance and improvements of the Parks. However, Caren recognized the opportunity to collaborate with other like-minded organizations to provide enhancements to the Park while improving the natural environment. To celebrate the Audubon Society’s 100th anniversary, Caren helped raise money to support the installation of 100 Chimney Swift habitat towers at scattered locations throughout the County Parks.

    It’s the natural environment. In the early days of the Foundation’s work, not much attention was paid to the natural environment. Under Caren’s tutelage, significant progress has been made to study and document the health of the natural environment through ecological assessments either completed or underway. Caren referenced the recent study completed by Tree Pittsburgh regarding the loss of tree canopy how the Parks play an essential role in stormwater management and natural habitat, but that people still want the flat grassy areas to have picnics and play frisbee. When asked about the goal for tree cover across the 12,000 acres, Caren emphasized the need to enrich the experience that people have when they visit a park, but the focus on data collection and fact-based resource management is essential for the future resiliency of our parks. A recent example is the documentation of a beautiful forest environment by Pinkerton Run in Settlers Cabin Park, which sits below the extensively mined areas of the park. Caren noted that the grand tree stands were not expected in an area that had such a presence of extractive industries, but now they can develop a plan to protect this fragile resource.

    Things, they are changing. When Caren started her career in the 1970s, the environmental movement was sweeping across the nation. Today, she sees a different political environment but believes that the value of protecting the health of our natural environment will continue to be an important consideration for our public officials and the residents who elect them. She stressed that we must first address the physical condition of our infrastructure if we are to attract the kind of high-caliber economic development desired in our region. For the Parks, Caren believes we should strive to return waterways back to their natural condition when possible and integrate the physical restoration of contours when designing new projects. She is also excited for their new renewable energy initiative that will feature solar installations at various park location.

    So, what are the possibilities for environmental professionals? Sitting in front of a window overlooking North Park Lake, Caren shared a few words of wisdom with the capacity crowd of women and men. Take risks—but do not be afraid to ask for help. Get involved with professional groups and network as much as possible. (And invite Caren for a cup of coffee—she won’t turn you down!) When asked how to make a transition into the environmental field, Caren challenged everyone to broaden their experiences and knowledge by volunteering in an area outside their professional career path. She suggested that, by doing this, we will grow our expertise in new and exciting ways while broadening our network and perspective.

    What is next? Caren continues to focus on partnerships and the financial health of the Foundation and parks, which requires a lot of outreach and fundraising. Upcoming events to benefit the Parks Foundation include Twilight Picnic For The Parks on August 25 in Hartwood Acres and Pour at the Park - North Park on September 7.  She plans to go mobile at some point with an Airstream Base Camp that will let her get back to nature with the help of her Ford Escape. For SWEP? We will continue our Conversation With… series in the hopes that we can elevate awareness of important environmental issues facing the Three Rivers Region. Perhaps you’ll leave inspired to engage on new environmental issues—or at least start a conversation about them with a woman who’s been down that road before.

    SWEP-Three Rivers Chapter extends our heartfelt appreciate to Caren for her time – what a great way to spend the day! Thank you also to our Sponsors. We could not offer such a wonderful program without the following organizational support: Platinum Sponsor, ALCOSAN, and Bronze Sponsors: Babst Calland, eholdings, Moody and Associates, and Skelly and Loy. Thank you also to Tree Pittsburgh for the donation of heritage tree seedlings for door prizes. Three lucky people received a native tree grown from locally collected seeds and hand grown at the Tree Pittsburgh Heritage Nursery.

    Photo credits: Meaghan Elliott Photography

  • 17 Jun 2018 10:04 PM | Anonymous

    Since the 1920s and 1930s, Allegheny County parks have supplemented the network of smaller, denser city parks and distant state parks by providing expansive nature retreats strategically located to population centers. As the first of the County parks, North Park and South Park were designed to feature country club style amenities such as swimming, golf, tennis, picnic areas, and equestrian trails for public enjoyment. The philosophy of that time was to offer people living in the city an opportunity to escape to a rural setting where they could experience the types of recreational opportunities readily available to more wealthy citizens.

    By the late 1950s, efforts were underway to expand the park system and six parks (Boyce, Round Hill, White Oak, Settler’s Cabin, Harrison Hills, and Deer Lakes) were added. Thinking proactively, the County contracted with landscape architect firms to create guiding principles for park development and features. While not a strict code of regulatory guidelines, but rather a philosophy for designing the County parks system, this investment in the natural landscape and commitment to elevating the standard of recreational offerings has created a valuable resource for the county and region. Today, Allegheny County provides a rich offering of activities and a wide range of amenities ranging from swimming pools and skiing facilities to nature and cultural centers. The success of this effort is documented by the level of visitation that the nine parks in the County’s system receive. Together, the Allegheny County Parks attract over 20 million visitors per year.

    The challenge of managing such a significant park system and keeping it accessible to the public is immense. Allegheny County recognized that additional resources and partnerships were needed and created the Allegheny County Parks Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, in 2007 to help improve, preserve, and restore the parks. The Allegheny County Parks Foundation not only supports capital projects but also has helped to evolve the way the County assesses the park system itself. This perspective focuses on a fact-based understanding of the ecological health of the park.

    For instance, the North Park Master Plan (2012) included a site assessment that evaluated vegetation, water resources, geology, utilities, and transportation and circulation patterns. In 2015, the Foundation partnered with the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy (WPC) to conduct its first Ecological Assessment and Action Plan to evaluate natural resources and environmental assets. That initial project focused on Boyce Park and South Park and the Foundation is currently working on similar assessments for Hartwood Acres and Settler’s Cabin parks. These projects are data-intensive and use geographic information system (GIS) mapping and specific data collection techniques and observations. Key outcomes include identification of rare and sensitive plants, preferred locations for restoration to increase wildlife habitat, development of a sustainable trail plan, and recommendations for green stormwater management techniques. The County has begun implementing some of these recommendations, including a demonstration meadow in Boyce Park.

    Many other projects are currently underway in the Allegheny County parks including new trails, pollution clean-up, restoration projects, and signage improvements in all parks to enhance the visitor experience. The collaborations between the County, Foundation, and stakeholders including park visitors, environmental groups, businesses, and local governments continue to result in improved recreational experiences and environmental benefits for Allegheny County residents and visitors.

    The Society of Women Environmental Professionals (SWEP) - Three Rivers Chapter is placing a spotlight on the County’s parks system and the essential role of the Allegheny County Park Foundation when we host “A Conversation with Caren Glotfelty: The Art of Possibilities for the Environmental Professional” on Tuesday June 26th in North Park. Our Chapter recognized the importance of this conversation early on and we are pleased to announce that the event has reached capacity and registration is closed. Please visit our website to learn more about SWEP, our mission, and upcoming events.

    {Photos courtesy of the Allegheny County Parks Foundation}

  • 29 May 2018 2:27 PM | Anonymous

    Early on a Saturday morning in April, SWEP joined Saw Mill Run Watershed Association (SMRWA) for the first stream cleanup of the year.  The air was brisk at 9am, but the sun was shining, and the coffee was hot.  A total of 39 volunteers assisted with the Earth Day cleanup to improve the quality of Saw Mill Run which flows through Castle Shannon Borough.  The volunteer demographic gives an insight about the people who care about the local environment.  Volunteers included municipality employees, fire and police staff, residents, SWEP members, environmental consultants, and members of local clean water agencies such as ALCOSAN.  Before venturing into the stream, the volunteers gathered for a group photo - chanting “WE DO” when asked “Who cares about Saw Mill Run?” 

    Lisa Werder Brown, Executive Director of SMRWA, provided coffee, donuts, and a brief safety lesson for the group.  The volunteers divided into smaller groups to tackle 1.6 miles of stream between Rockwood Avenue and Killarney Drive.  The Great American Cleanup of PA provided safety vests, gloves, and trash bags – enough for this event and several stream cleanups to come.

    Tackling the stream is exactly what this group did!  The bed of the Castle Shannon Borough truck was overflowing with bags of “non-natural” items pulled out of the stream.  The bulk of the trash collected was small items such as cups, bottles, cans, food wrappers, and plastic grocery bags that made their way into the stream getting caught in branches and under rocks.  The volunteers also pulled out heavier abandoned items, such as broken pipes, parts of old manholes, construction debris, and even a few granite headstones.

    The hard work of the day was rewarded with pizza, snacks and beverages provided by local vendors:

    Special thanks to The Pizza Company and SHOP ‘n SAVE in Castle Shannon Borough!

    Additional thanks to Chuck Christ for his wonderful photos and videos of the event:



    Upcoming events for SMRWA can be found here.

    To report maintenance issues for Saw Mill Run, please download the “Water Reporter” app and join the Saw Mill Run Watershed group page.  The app can post photos with geotags to be send to SMRWA to handle environmental or other concerns.

    The SWEP 3 Rivers Public Service Committee needs you!  Interested in joining?  Email Amanda Love: Alove@moody-S.com

    Or visit the SWEP website at: www.swep3rivers.org
  • 17 May 2018 7:16 AM | Anonymous

    The Society of Women Environmental Professionals (SWEP) - Three Rivers Chapter is pleased to host “A Conversation with Caren Glotfelty, Executive Director of the Allegheny County Parks Foundation” on Tuesday June 26th.  Caren is well known as one of the state’s top environmental advocates.  A native of Northern California, Caren has spent her career in Pennsylvania and the surrounding region focusing on water quality, land use, and planning issues.  With her expertise and reputation, she earned the appointment as the first female Deputy Secretary for Water Management in the PA Department of Environmental Resources, where she spent 4 years managing state policy and regulatory programs for water quality, sewage treatment, stormwater management, and stream protection.  She has been honored many times including the PA Environmental Council Lifetime Achievement Award and the PA Parks and Forests Foundation Cliff Jones Legacy Award. 

    Image Source

    Following 13 years as Senior Program Director for the Heinz Endowments Environment Program and 5 years as Maurice K. Goddard Chair in Forestry & Environmental Resources Conservation at Penn State University, Caren now heads the Allegheny County Parks Foundation (ACPF).  In her role as Executive Director, she helps to steward the county’s 12,000 acres of parks where she can continue her commitment to protecting the environment.

    Whether she’s designing a demonstration meadow, putting together a strategic plan, mitigating stream pollution, or installing a chimney swift nesting tower, Caren is a natural fit for leading the ACPF, whose mission is to improve, conserve, maintain, protect, preserve and restore Allegheny County park facilities and open spaces, and to support educational, recreational, natural, and cultural activities. “I’ve spent many years repairing some of the dire ecological consequences of industrialization to our region,” Caren has said. “It’s a joy and privilege to now concentrate on the needs of such an important resource as our county parks. Allegheny County is very fortunate that we have such a robust park system, which is a rare asset for a single county.”

    The ACPF, a non-profit established in 2007, works with Allegheny County to support the county’s nine parks. The ACPF supports the transformation of these nine County parks by providing resources, improving assets, and coordinating public and private stakeholders to advance strategies to make the parks signature assets in Southwestern Pennsylvania. Some of the notable projects include major trail improvements in North Park, Settlers Cabin, and South Park, ecological assessments in Boyce Park and South Park, and the implementation of the Chimney Swift Habitat Towers program.

    Join us on June 26 as we learn more about Caren’s dreams for our County parks and her efforts to advance environmental sustainability. You will leave inspired by her passion and motivated by her journey to realize the art of possibilities for environmental professionals.

    Location: North Park at Rose Barn on Pearce Mill Road, Allison Park, PA 15101

    Time: Registration & Networking at 2:00 PM; Program at 2:30 PM; Social Networking to follow at Over the Bar Bicycle Café, North Park Boat House 10301 Pearce Mill Road, Allison Park, PA 15101

    Registration opens for members on May 14 and May 21 for non-members. Seating is limited so register early.  

    Event Registration

  • 19 Apr 2018 9:30 AM | Anonymous

    What we learned: It has been a long winter. If you think it has been a long and unending winter, you are right. At least according to resident expert on the region’s winter-weary roads, Cheryl Moon-Sirianni, District Executive, PennDOT District 11. She confirmed what we all know to be true – we had the wettest February on record, and it snowed on every single holiday since December, draining maintenance budgets and our winter spirits.

    Yet, Cheryl’s grace and sense of humor inspired and uplifted members and guests of the Society of Women Environmental Professionals – Three Rivers Chapter at as we continued our “Conversation With…” series. Speaking to a full house on a cold, snowy day in April, Cheryl brought to life the immense responsibility that rests upon PennDOT employees and gave us a better understanding of the importance of our transportation network to our regions quality of life and economy. PennDOT District 11 includes over 2500 miles of state highway, 1800 bridges, and four tunnels in Allegheny, Beaver, and Lawrence counties. With almost 2000 square miles and over 1.5 million people living in the District, it is also home to several major population centers, such as the City of Pittsburgh, that attract hundreds of thousands of commuters every day.

    The Three Rivers story is one of bridges: Cheryl discussed the strides the  state has made to replace state-owned bridges (District 11 reduced the number of deficient bridges from 600 in 2006 to 214 in 2017). While this reduction is significant, it does not tell the whole story and much remains to be done. The Transportation Bill, Act 89, provided additional revenue, but the presence of large river crossings in District 11 places increased stresses on its budget. For instance, Highland Park Bridge and the Tarentum Bridge were last rehabilitated in the 1980’s but there remain many more critical structures such as the McKees Rocks Bridge, which is over a mile long and will have much greater rehabilitation costs. Failure to maintain this important traffic conduit would be a devastating blow to the local and regional economy.

    Yes – there are a lot of potholes. This winter season has taken its toll on our roads, and this could be the worst season for winter maintenance. PennDOT personnel are working overtime because of the amount and timing of snowfall over the last several months. As PennDOT maintenance crews have repaired roads with cold-patch as an interim fix until asphalt season begins, the weather has repeatedly responded with even more rain, counteracting repair efforts. Rain, rain, and more rain coupled with freeze/thaw cycles have added to pothole misery. 

    Relationships are important.  As Cheryl reflected on her career of public service, she shared that the most enjoyable, and perhaps important, part of the job are the relationships and partnerships that she has nurtured.  The resulting strong ties Cheryl has developed over the years were evident as she went through the room, greeting many by name and speaking to individual accomplishments from the stage.

    Cheryl’s advice for young women? Take chances early on in your career. Get involved with professional groups and network as much as possible. Take on challenges at work and ask for opportunities. 

    Thank you to Cheryl and to everyone who attended this event. SWEP Three Rivers has thoroughly enjoyed hosting the “Conversation With” series and we are privileged to have the opportunity to connect professional women in the Pittsburgh region with successful women leaders. The generous support of our event sponsorsJMT (Platinum), GAI Consultants (Gold), Dawood Engineering (Bronze), Markosky Engineering Group (Bronze), and Williams (Student) – made this event a success and we truly appreciate their support.


  • 13 Apr 2018 1:52 AM | Anonymous

    Please join us to celebrate Earth Day on Saturday, April 21, 2018 for a stream cleanup of Saw Mill Run – no special skills required!

    The Society of Women Professionals (SWEP) Three Rivers Chapter is pleased to partner with Saw Mill Run Watershed Association for a stream clean up in celebration of Earth Day - Saturday April 21 at 9:00 am in Castle Shannon Borough. Overall, the Saw Mill Run Watershed is approximately 19 square miles, including 12 separate municipalities and 14 City of Pittsburgh neighborhoods. The watershed is identified by its’ busy Route 51 Saw Mill Run Blvd highway corridor, the valley’s sleep slopes, and high density of impervious areas from decades of urban development. These qualities also cause frequent flooding, trash accumulation, and have a negative impact on the water quality of the stream.

    While most of the impacts are man-made, we can also be a part of the solution. Have you ever noticed the litter that is piling up in your local Rivers or streams? It takes away from the beauty and safety of our waterways. Further, rivers and streams provide 65% of our nation’s drinking water. Well you can do something about it by joining us for a cleanup effort with Saw Mill Run Watershed. You, your friends and others in our community can help make the stream safer, healthier and cleaner.

    Please help is help our environment – rain or shine – and register today!

    Arrive early for coffee and bagels. Lunch will be provided by supporting local businesses

    Event Details:

    When: Saturday, April 21, 2018

    Time: 9:00 am

    Where: James Street Parking Lot off Willow Avenue near Someone Else's

    Google Maps: https://goo.gl/maps/u6iuxc1td1p

    Families are welcome, but minors must be accompanied by a responsible adult.

  • 19 Mar 2018 4:00 PM | Anonymous

    The Society of Women Environmental Professionals (SWEP) - Three Rivers Chapter is pleased to host "A Conversation with Cheryl Moon-Sirianni" on Wednesday, April 4th. For women engineers in the Pittsburgh region, Cheryl is well-known for achieving professional success while serving as a role model for maintaining a work-life balance and promoting workforce diversity. Cheryl grew up in Freeport, studied civil engineering at Penn State, and began her career as a civil engineer trainee at PennDOT. Her talent and work ethic have helped Cheryl rise among the ranks of a male-dominated transportation industry. She was recognized for her professional accomplishments last November when PennDOT Secretary Leslie Richards appointed Cheryl as the District Executive for PennDOT District 11.

    As the District Executive, Cheryl is the first woman to oversee what could be one of the most challenging transportation networks in Pennsylvania. The District, which includes Allegheny, Beaver, and Lawrence counties along with over 200 different local governments, is synonymous with roads, bridges, and for those of us who drive in and around Pittsburgh, tunnels. By itself, Allegheny County has the largest roadway system in the Commonwealth and is home to employment centers that attract hundreds of thousands of commuters every day. All three counties have unique aspects that must be considered as PennDOT shares responsibility for the ownership and maintenance of this extensive transportation system with its local government partners.

    The role our state agencies play in maintaining our infrastructure is largely understated because many are unaware of what they do and the challenges they face. And, when you think access and mobility within our communities, to our jobs, you begin to realize just how fundamental a safe and efficient transportation system is to our economy, environment, and quality of life. Managing the demands of such a large infrastructure network coupled with our region’s steep slopes and soil composition presents other considerations. Rain, snow, or runoff can lead to emergencies such as landslides and flooding requiring rapid response, while also contributing to potholes and general road deterioration.

    Now responsible for 800 workers and over $305 million in construction projects, Cheryl’s institutional knowledge of PennDOT and expertise in engineering and planning will help her address these challenges proactively. Join SWEP Three Rivers as we hear about new PennDOT initiatives to strengthen communities and diversify the workforce and learn more about Cheryl’s leadership in delivering a safe and efficient transportation system.  

    Please visit the event page to register today!

    Event Details

    When: Wednesday, April 4, 2018
    Where: DoubleTree Green Tree, 500 Mansfield Ave., Pittsburgh, PA 15205

    Registration and networking begin at 8:00 a.m. We will serve breakfast at 8:30 a.m. and our Conversation with Cheryl begins at 8:45 a.m.

    Join the Conversation!

  • 30 Jan 2018 7:00 AM | Anonymous


    On a rare sunny day in January, members of SWEP Three Rivers Chapter met at the Southwest Regional office of the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PA DEP) for our first Brown Bag Lunch of 2018. The Three Rivers SWEP Brown Bag Lunch will augment our event series and provide a casual gathering for our members to hear about important topics related to environmental issues. Our first Brown Bag Lunch featured the new PA DEP Southwest Regional Director, Ronald Schwartz, P.E., BCEE, and his staff who shared their perspective about hot topics and new policies affecting industry and environmental professionals in Pennsylvania. Three Rivers SWEP members filled the room to capacity and were treated to a vibrant and informative discussion, of which, a few of the key takeaways are summarized here.

    A Focus on Efficiencies:

    The Southwest Region has been particularly challenged by funding constraints coupled with a high attrition rate due to retirements and opportunities in industry.  Despite an increased workload, the statewide staff contingent has dropped 43% in the last decade. Ron addressed this challenge and commended the hard work and commitment of his team as evidenced by a 60% reduction in the backlog of permits in the last six months of 2017 in the Southwest Region.

    To increase efficiencies, decrease review times and help applicants submit complete applications, PA DEP is increasing the number of permit applications which can be submitted online and prioritizing new hires in programs with the greatest workload.*

    PA DEP’s Southwest Regional staff reiterated their commitment to the department’s mission to protect the environment while increasing efficiencies in the permitting and compliance processes.

    The Oil and Gas program has piloted online applications, demonstrating that this decreases the time required to review and make permit decisions. In addition, inspectors in the field have been provided iPads and other technologies enabling them to file inspection reports from the field. These tools are allowing PA DEP to catch up with industry.

    If you file oil and gas permits using e-Well, please know that the program will be replaced in 2018 with the goal of further improving efficiency.

    E-permitting in the Waterways and Wetlands Program is on the schedule, but there is no estimated date currently for when it will roll out.

    The File Room contains decades of paper files for all programs making reviews time consuming and sometimes requiring many visits to the Southwest office to research. Currently the file room is understaffed, and it can take 1-2 months to get an appointment to review files. PA DEP will embark on a process to digitize its files in 2018, ultimately providing electronic access to files.

    At the state level, PA DEP is creating a new Regional Coordination Office, which will coordinate permit reviews for projects spanning multiple regions, including pipelines and highways. The office is currently being staffed, so look for an announcement that they are open for business soon.

    Each speaker emphasized the value of pre-application meetings to ensure a timely decision and to provide applicants the information they need to submit a complete application. They strongly suggested that projects presented at pre-application meetings should be close to final design for DEP to provide an accurate assessment of the permits required for a given project.

    New program requirements and regulatory changes:**

    • PAG-02 was to have expired December 2017 but was extended for an additional two years.
    • DEP is developing a General Permit for small projects less than 5 acres.
    • Oversight of the NPDES permits for construction activity has been consolidated into one bureau (Clean Water) in Harrisburg with other types of NPDES permits (this does not represent a substantive change for regional permitting).
    • PA DEP is updating a Stormwater BMP manual, which should be complete in 2020.
    • Chapter 105 – the environmental assessment was revised, and new protocols incorporated.

    In addition to Director Schwartz, the SWEP Three Rivers Chapter would like to thank the following PA DEP Southwest Regional staff for their presentations and time:

    • Dana Drake, Environmental Program Manager, Waterways & Wetlands,
    • Renee Diehl, Environmental Group Manager, Safe Drinking Water,
    • Kareen Milcic, Environmental Group Manager, Southwest District Oil and Gas Operations,
    • Brian Schimmel, Local Government Liaison, and
    • Lauren Fraley, Community Relations Coordinator.

    PA DEP Southwest Regional staff with SWEP Three Rivers Board Members


    PA DEP Southwest Regional staff with SWEP Three Rivers Board Members

    For more information, please refer to the following resources:

    *On January 26, Gov. Tom Wolf announced that he will include $2.5 million in the 2018-19 budget for additional staffing at PA DEP

    ** The GP-5 and GP-5A proposed revisions, part of Gov. Wolf’s methane reduction strategy, will be finalized in Q1 of 2018. This page has the latest information on the process

    To capitalize on the success to date, DEP will continue to implement new approaches to its permitting processes by simplifying bureaucratic and outdated procedures, while continuing its mission of protecting the environment. New initiatives include:

    • Expanding the e-permitting system to include several key development permits, reducing the time spent trading paper between DEP and industry;
    • Creating a new analytics program that helps managers track progress on open permit applications – allowing them to know how long permits have been in the system;
    • Releasing new review processes and registration practices for key development permits for clarification on what is needed to complete an application and make it easier to apply for these permits; and

    Supporting common sense legislation that will bring the permit process in line with the industry it is engaged with, such as extending permit terms and allowing multi-well pad permitting.

    Would you like to see more? Visit the photo gallery from the event or check out our Twitter Moment

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Three Rivers Society of Women Environmental Professionals

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