BALDWIN (KDKA) — It’s a scene that has become all too familiar – Route 51 a raging rapids, unable to handle storm water.

“We’ve seen some of the flooding, some of the property damage, some of the problems that occur,” said Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald.

But today students at Baldwin High School took a step towards becoming part of the solution, unveiling a bio-retention project that will display natural ways to keep storm water from the sewage system.

As you drive past on the road, it looks like just a large landscaping project. It took 750 plants to put together, but when done and planned properly, those plants can take away 200,000 gallons of rain water.

“It really is pulling water off the streets and allowing it to sit on-site so it’s not going into the storm sewer system and overburdening it with water,” said David Himes, the landscape designer/project manager for the Penn State Center.

In the big picture, the Penn State Center partnered in this project as a way to help Allegheny County with a pressing problem, a sewage system facing billions in upgrades to comply with an EPA consent decree.

“The more of this we can do, the more of that cost we can reduce,” said Fitzgerald. “It’s not just about reducing the cost, but it’s also about improving the water quality. You know, none of us want to go swimming in the river if there’s raw sewage there. Nobody wants to boat or fish on our beautiful, beautiful rivers if we don’t take care of them.”

If all goes as planned, the 5,000 square feet will multiply many times over throughout the region.

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