Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority

Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority

The Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority board of directors on Friday approved a cooperation agreement with the City of Pittsburgh to enter into a contract for consulting on the potential restructuring of the authority.

Jim Bourg / AP

The Confluence, where the news comes together, is 90.5 WESA’s weekly news program.

Each week, reporters, editors and bloggers join veteran journalist and host Kevin Gavin to take an in-depth look at the stories important to the Pittsburgh region.

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

The fight between the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority and the company that managed its operations for three-and-a-half years has entered a new and more combative stage.

Veolia Water North America has decided to withdraw from mediation with PWSA and instead enter into a formal arbitration proceeding. Arbitration and mediation are both provided for in the contract signed by both parties in 2012.

Margaret J. Krauss / 90.5 WESA

City leaders considered ideas to restructure the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority in a half-day discussion at the City-County Building on Friday.

Mayor Bill Peduto and his appointed Blue Ribbon Advisory Panel interviewed candidates competing to help evaluate the debt-ridden authority, which has been under more intense scrutiny lately for lead and other contaminants in some city water lines.

Liz Reid / 90.5 WESA

Sen. Wayne Fontana, D-Allegheny, on Wednesday announced plans to introduce three bills that would authorize the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority to replace private water and sewer lines.

Christian Naenny / Flickr

 

 

From a conference room at the North Shore offices of Peoples Gas, president and CEO Morgan O’Brien has a view of Pittsburgh’s rivers.

David Goldman / AP Photo

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.

Lead-Tainted Water Is A Big Problem In Pittsburgh. So Is Lead In The City's Soil

Mar 29, 2017
Kara Holsopple / Allegheny Front

On a chilly Saturday afternoon in March, people trickle into Grow Pittsburgh’s Garden Resource Center in the city’s Larimer neighborhood. 

What's The Best Way To Protect People From Lead-Tainted Drinking Water?

Mar 24, 2017
Darron Cummings / AP

The problem of lead in drinking water has been well-known for years. But the tragedy in Flint, Michigan, where lead-tainted water poisoned hundreds of children and contributed to several deaths, has catapulted the issue into the spotlight.

As In Flint, Cost-Cutting May Be To Blame For Pittsburgh's High Lead Levels

Mar 23, 2017
Steve Johnson / Flickr

Inside the bowels of the Pittsburgh Water Treatment Plant, what looks like a row of high-quality science fair entries hums with pipes, tanks and motors. Gina Cyprych points to a plywood structure with the number “12” on it. It’s rigged with a loop of plastic and metal pipes.

“The metallic-colored one is a lead pipe. It looks grey,” says Cyprych, the acting head of water quality for the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority (PWSA), which provides 300,000 people with their drinking water.

Margaret J. Krauss / 90.5 WESA

Sabrina Spiher Robinson and her husband Ted Robinson live on a hill in Upper Lawrenceville. From the set of steep steps leading to their front door, they can see the Allegheny River. But mostly what they see are construction scars.  

 

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

Carol McCullough, 76, lives in the West End neighborhood of Westwood in the home she and her husband have shared for nearly 50 years. She had her water tested for lead years ago, but when the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority announced last summer that it had found elevated lead levels in some homes, she decided to get another test, just to be safe.

Katie Meyer / WITF

Pennsylvania gets a failing grade for its efforts to protect children from high levels of lead in the water at their schools, according to a report released two weeks ago from Public Interest Research Groups, a national federation of left-leaning, independent nonprofits.

It advises—among other things—that schools install water filters as soon as possible while working on longer-term solutions.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

Pittsburgh City Councilwoman Deb Gross is leading a fundraising effort to buy lead-filtering water pitchers for families with young children.

She said the city could provide a countertop pitcher to each of Pittsburgh's estimated 25,000 households with a child under age 6 for less than $1 million. She said she hopes private foundations and the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority will be able to allocate funding within a month.

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

Pittsburgh City Controller Michael Lamb on Thursday released a draft of the performance audit of the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority Thursday with 53 recommended changes.

The audit was concurrent with widespread customer billing and meter problems, issues of lead in drinking water and inconsistent leadership.

Marcus Charleston / 90.5 WESA

A flush and boil water advisory affecting 100,000 Pittsburghers earlier this month, delays in lead test results and billing snafus have led Mayor Bill Peduto to call for an advisory panel to mull the idea of restructuring the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority.

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

The Pittsburgh Office of Municipal Investigations has begun examining the cause of last week’s flush and boil order for more than 100,000 Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority customers.

OMI will conduct interviews with PWSA employees to determine whether the problem stemmed from faulty infrastructure, improper chlorine meters or operator error.

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

*UPDATED: Feb. 2, 2017 at 3:37 p.m. 

Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority officials lifted the flush and boil water advisory for the city’s central and eastern neighborhoods Thursday.

Virginia Alvino / 90.5 WESA

No agency is independently testing or verifying the quality of Pittsburgh’s drinking water, according to an audit released Monday by Allegheny County Controller Chelsa Wagner.

Don Wright / AP

 

 

An appeals court has cleared the way for refiling of a lawsuit against an engineering firm in the deaths of four people killed in flash flooding in Pittsburgh more than five years ago.

A judge earlier dismissed claims against Chester Engineers Inc., which acted as the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority's consulting engineer and construction manager.

rob zand / flickr

The Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority has filed suit against Veolia Water North America-Northeast LLC, which managed the authority for three-and-a-half trouble-filled years.

“They botched the procurement and implementation of a new automatic water meter reading system. They failed to properly bill PWSA customers. And they mishandled the change in chemical related to lead corrosion control at the water treatment plant,” said PWSA Board of Directors Chairman Alex W. Thomson.

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority this week announced changes to its protocol for testing customer water samples for lead that could cut wait time for customers in half.

Acting Chief Water Quality Officer Gina Cyprych said testing currently takes about five weeks: eight to ten business days for delivery and pickup of the testing kit and three weeks for the lab to analyze the samples. The new system should take closer to two-and-a-half weeks, but Cyprich said both time frames are “optimistic.”

Lindstrom in Uniform
File Photo / U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

Retired U.S. Army Colonel Bernard Lindstrom will take the helm at the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority on a temporary basis. The PWSA board named Lindstrom its interim executive director at a special meeting Thursday after its initial choice for a permanent director withdrew his name from consideration in July.

Lindstrom comes to the Authority after 25 years in the U.S. Army. He most recently served as Commander of the Army Corps of Engineers’ Pittsburgh District from 2013 before retiring in July. His initial contract with PWSA will last through March 12.

Matt Nemeth / 90.5 WESA

Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority officials said Friday they’re working out the kinks causing inaccurate water bills for roughly 30,000 residents. 

Residents said they’ve received inaccurate or late bills for months.

Oregon Dept. of Transportation / Flickr

Water used for drinking and preparing food at Pittsburgh Public Schools is now being tested for lead.

The Allegheny County Health Department will work with Pittsburgh Public Schools and local water authorities to pinpoint and shut-off dangerous outlets throughout the 70 district facilities. All testing will take place this summer.

Even though there is no federal or state law requiring drinking water to be tested for lead, Pittsburgh Public Schools Chief Operations Officer Ronald Joseph said district officials want to take a proactive approach.

Matt Nemeth / 90.5 WESA

Two proposed trust funds would allow real estate developers to pay the city of Pittsburgh to build green spaces and stormwater management infrastructure if they’re not able to include those elements on the sites of new projects in Downtown or North Shore.

Pittsburgh City Council approved the creation of an Open Space Trust Fund and a Stormwater Management Trust Fund in two unanimous preliminary votes Wednesday.

Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

The city's water authority got a slap on the wrist Monday from the Wolf administration two years after making a critical change to the chemicals added to Pittsburgh drinking water.

State Department of Environmental Protection Secretary John Quigley said Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority should have gotten approval from the state before switching from soda ash to caustic soda for corrosion control.

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Executive Director Jim Good tendered his resignation to the Pittsburgh Water & Sewer Authority board on Thursday following an investigation showing $32.3 million in unpaid accounts.

Board officials said in a release the separation is effective immediately, as is a nationwide search for his permanent replacement. Former Allegheny Regional Asset District Director David Donahoe will serve in an interim role, according to Mayor's Bill Peduto's office.

Mark Taylor / Flickr

The Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority is installing a new system with the goal of identifying and prioritizing issues, such as main breaks, before they happen.

Brendan Shubert, PWSA manager of external affairs, said the electronic software flags when multiple water main breaks are reported in an area. PWSA will prioritize that area in the following year's budget. 

Then the authority can make that area a priority in the following year’s budget.

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