There are three big challenges when it comes to eradicating lead in Pittsburgh’s water system: locating lead lines, removing them and paying for it. On Wednesday, state senators approved two bills that would provide the city with the legal authority and money to help rebuild its entire system.
Under current state law, municipal authorities such as the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority can’t compete with private businesses. So, pulling out sewer or water laterals on private property is a no-go. Sen. Wayne Fontana, D-Brookline, sponsored legislation that would amend that law when it means keeping residents safe and healthy. The second bill Fontana sponsored would help pay for it.
“It’s really going to help not only the municipalities that have issues with old infrastructure when it comes to sewer laterals and water,” he said. “But also with consumers and the ... potential cost of fixing their private laterals or water lines.”
Under Senate Bill 639, municipalities such as Pittsburgh could apply for a low-interest loan from PENNVEST, the state’s infrastructure investment authority. Then they could either do the work themselves, or create a loan program for residents.
Both bills have been sent to the House of Representatives. Fontana said he hopes they’ll be on the governor’s desk by the end of next week.
A separate bill being considered by the Senate would give the Pennsylvania Utility Commission oversight of PWSA.
(Photo via Clio1789 / Flickr)