State Senator Jim Ferlo (D-Allegheny) welcomed Jim Good as the director of the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority. The lawmaker also opened a dialogue with PWSA, ALCOSAN, and other community leaders and organizations about the future of area water systems.
“If we don’t act constructively and be progressive and proactive, individuals and businesses are going to be devastated with rate increases that would be in the hundreds of dollars on one’s bill. We have to plan smarter and think more creatively and more boldly,” said Ferlo.
Those rate increases could come as the result of upgrades needed to comply with federal regulations. The PWSA and the Allegheny County Sanitary Authority must find ways to lessen sewage overflow into rivers during wet weather, among other things. But Ferlo said those entities can’t take up the task on their own.
“ALCOSAN can only do so much relative to the system itself, whether it’s the pipes and the treatment, they have no jurisdiction or authority out in the community to implement greening strategies, that’s something that each municipality must be educated in and become involved in,” he said.
ALCOSAN has come under criticism because its multi-year wet weather plan doesn’t include green infrastructure improvements. The agency said that’s not its purview. Ferlo agreed, and said everyone from residents to governments must work together to implement green changes in conjunction with “gray” system upgrades.
Ferlo said the whole thing is a multi-billion dollar equation, affecting people throughout Allegheny County.