PWSA Approves Shutoff Moratorium, Plans Policy To Assist Low-Income Residents

Oct 26, 2017

The Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority has approved a moratorium on water shutoffs to help low-income residents who rely on radiators in the winter months. Shutoffs for customers 250 percent below the federal poverty level will be barred from Dec. 1 to March 30.

PWSA interim executive director Bob Weimar said this is the first step in creating fair-payment policies within the authority.

"There are things we should be doing to help our residents that to this point we haven't done," Weimar said. "Not because we wouldn't want to, but because we didn't have the capacity to."

This winter, customers who receive a water shutoff notice will be directed to call a still-undecided third party company that will determine if they're eligible for bill assistance. Weimar said the process is consistent with how other Pittsburgh utility companies accommodate their low-income customers.

"We're looking to come up with the best strategy based on our personal experience with the ratepayers, but also the experience of our, if you will, brother utilities," he said.

The authority will be forming a year-round policy to best serve residents who are regularly unable to pay their water bills. PWSA spokesperson Will Pickering said a preliminary draft will likely be brought to the board of directors at the Nov. 8 meeting.