Like many municipalities in Pennsylvania, Pittsburgh’s water system faces significant structural challenges, from aging infrastructure to ongoing concerns about lead in the city’s drinking water.
To address them, Mayor Bill Peduto kicked off the process of evaluating Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority (PWSA), with the goal of restructuring.
The administration doesn’t know what the best course of action is, but they want to find out, said Kevin Acklin, Peduto’s chief of staff.
“We are going to spend the time and attention that it takes to restructure this authority to make sure that it's put on sound financial footing, that we address and eliminate lead from our system, and have a resilient water system and sewer system for many decades to come. This is our issue.”
Acklin said restructuring will ensure that PWSA can provide the basic services residents deserve. The authority carries more than $750 million in debt.
“About 50 cents of every dollar that comes in goes out the door. That doesn't allow for a lot of gas in the tank to solve some of the problems that need to be solved so that's part of why we're looking at potential partnerships.”
Acklin said the restructuring process will be transparent, and open to public scrutiny. He emphasized the administration is not looking at privatization. However, they would be open to investment from a private partner. It’s possible another public utility or Penn American Water could partner with PWSA.
Peduto appointed a blue-ribbon panel to select a restructuring team. The panel will meet Friday to interview finalists at a public meeting.