Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority

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.

Linkedin

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.

How Safe Is Pittsburgh's Drinking Water?

Jan 22, 2016
Paul Sancya / AP Images

After thousands of children were exposed to lead due to poor water quality in Flint, Michigan, many across the nation are wondering if their own water is safe. Could it happen in Pittsburgh? Essential Pittsburgh’s Paul Guggenheimer sat down with James Good, Executive Director of the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority, to see what the agency is doing to remain compliant.  

PWSA Meter Reading Challenges Continue To Impact Customer Bills

Dec 2, 2015
Emilian Robert Vicol / flickr

Throughout the last year, the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority has been implementing a new system for transmitting meter reading data.  Many customers immediately saw changes to their bills, with some complaining of excessive charges, and even one filing a class-action lawsuit over the problems.  Recently Pittsburgh City Council has pressured the organization to change the appeal process for the new bills and the overall culture of customer service at PWSA. Pittsburgh City Councilwoman Deb Gross who serves on the PWSA board as well as PWSA Executive Director Jim Good answer questions about the new meters and clarify what the authority is doing to improve their service.

As little as a tenth of an inch of rainfall can be enough to overload sewers in some Pittsburgh neighborhoods, leading to the potential for untreated sewage to flow into area streams and rivers, according to James Stitt, Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority sustainability manager.

Antoinette Palmieri / Pittsburgh Water & Sewer Authority

More than four years after the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority’s water line service protection program was scrapped, Pittsburgh City Council took the first step last week to create a new program.

This time, said Councilman Dan Gilman, homeowners will have to actively opt-in to the program, rather than opting out.

Wilsonious / flickr

To help comply with a consent order to reduce sewer overflows in the Pittsburgh region, the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority (PWSA) is offering grants to encouraging home and business owners to install rainwater conservation projects.

Flickr user midquel

Many Pittsburgh homeowners have tried to sell their houses, only to find out that construction decisions made long before they ever even purchased those homes threw a wrench into the process.

Now, the Pittsburgh Water & Sewer Authority wants to lend a helping hand to homeowners stymied by such problems.

Customers of the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority now have another payment option at their disposal – cash payments at 7-Eleven stores.

“It’s a convenience for our customers who don’t have a bank account, a credit card, a debit card, they may be out of town,” said Melissa Rubin, a PWSA spokeswoman. “Cash payments can be made at any 7-Eleven across the U.S.”

Around 40 percent of all the water treated by ALCOSAN is already clean, according to Jim Good, Interim Executive Director of the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority.

Clean rainwater and groundwater often make their way into the sewer system through leaks in lateral sewer lines, which run from the main line to individual buildings and homes.

The National Weather Service is calling for temperatures to reach the low 50s this week, meaning the possibility of a lot of melted snow and ice — and floods.

Werner Loehlein, the chief of the water management for the Pittsburgh Army Corps of Engineers, said the Corps always worries about substantial snow and river ice when the temperature rises.

However, he said the latest forecast from the National Weather Service appears to show that Pittsburgh is safe from flooding.

Crews at the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority are gearing up for a busy week as the deep freeze sets in and is followed by a quick thaw.

“Any extreme change in temperature causes the ground to shift, and when that occurs, the lines break,” said PWSA spokeswoman Melissa Rubin. “We have an old system, we have a lot of pipe that’s 80 years old, a hundred years old. Some of them are old cast iron pipes, and they break when the ground shifts.”

A broad coalition of environmental and community groups Monday urged Pittsburgh City Council to pursue green infrastructure solutions to the city’s storm water overflow problem.

Jennifer Szweda Jordan / Allegheny Front

The Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority (PWSA) has received a $5 million loan from the state for sewer improvement projects in the Hill District and the South Side.  

The PWSA and all communities in Allegheny County are under a 2004 Consent Order to reduce sewer overflows on rainy days.

PWSA interim executive director Jim Good said cities that have been built in the last 100 years have a separate sanitary and storm water systems.  But older cities including New York, Boston and Pittsburgh have combined, single pipe systems.

Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

The Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority and Veolia Water have extended their partnership agreement through December 2014. PWSA started working with Veolia in the summer of 2012.

The initial contract was for at least 12 months, with an option to extend. One of the priorities for the upcoming contract term will likely be finding a permanent director.

“I think that’s the aim of the board, is at the end of the contract term that by then there would be a new, permanent executive director that’s a direct employ of the PWSA,” said interim Executive Director Jim Good.

The Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority on Wednesday submitted a $165 million plan to meet a 2002 federal mandate to reduce sewage overflows into Pittsburgh waterways.

“We’ve been working on the plan for a little over 10 years,” said Jim Good, PWSA’s interim executive director. “If you printed it out on paper the plan weighs 29 pounds.”

Good said the plan is “compliant gray,” but the authority went a step further. 

Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

Last summer, the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority partnered with Veolia Water North America to find ways of improving services and operating more efficiently.

Nine months in, officials said the executive management services agreement between the two entities has been beneficial. Rob Nicholas, vice president for development with Veolia, said PWSA has been able to find ways to bring in more revenue without raising rates for customers.

Photo courtesy of PWSA

You know it's winter in Pittsburgh when your car is getting beat up by pot-holes, the streets are chalky with salt, and water main breaks proliferate. But what exactly is going on below the pavement?

Clogged pipes, flooded basements and sheets of ice on roadways are some of the visible signs of water main breaks. But many leaks and breaks go undetected - including sewer line breaks which filter through the soil and along side the pipes for months or years.