Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority

Andrew Russell / Tribune-Review

It’s been a busy couple of weeks for the beleaguered Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority.

An-Li Herring / 90.5 WESA

Maintaining safe drinking water requires rigorous testing, and regulations from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection and the Environmental Protection Agency require reports on those tests at regular intervals: some daily, some monthly, some yearly.

90.5 WESA

The group hired by the city to make recommendations on how to restructure the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority has released its final report.

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

A new measure from state Rep. Dom Costa of Pittsburgh would add extra state control over the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority.

The struggling PWSA has dealt with many financial challenges over the years, and Costa says there should be an oversight committee in place to approve budgets. He's proposing a system similar to Act 47, which has overseen the city's finances for 14 years.

Liz Reid / 90.5 WESA

The Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority is setting aside $1.8 million to assist low-income customers by replacing the private portions of their lead service lines.

Margaret J. Krauss / 90.5 WESA

Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority can fix its delivery systems, manage its debt, and provide clean, safe drinking water while remaining under public control, according to recommendations from consultant Infrastructure Management Group, Inc.

Margaret J. Krauss / 90.5 WESA

Base water rates in Pittsburgh will increase by 49 percent by 2020. The board of the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority also approved significant increases to 2018 capital and operating budgets in a special meeting Wednesday morning.

Kathleen J. Davis / 90.5 WESA

About a hundred members of the public attended the final opportunity to weigh in on what might be included in a consultant’s recommendations for restructuring the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority.

The city hired Infrastructure Management Group in April to decide how to best address widespread problems at the struggling authority.

Kathleen J. Davis / 90.5 WESA

An audit of the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority shows an urgent need for immediate action on several fronts, including addressing the organization's more than $750 million in debt, crumbling infrastructure and lack of leadership. 

The report, which covers Jan. 1, 2014 to June 30, 2017, was conducted by State Auditor General Eugene DePasquale. 

"I don't believe that this is rising to some level of corruption," he said. "I think this was a bad setup from the beginning that led to a path of bad results."

Jake Savitz / 90.5 WESA

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.

Jake Savitz / 90.5 WESA

Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority was ordered to speed up its work on major infrastructure projects Wednesday when the state’s Department of Environmental Protection issued an administrative order aimed at ensuring consistent water volume and water pressure in the system.

Skitterphoto / Pixabay

A new policy to help low-income residents pay their water bills during the winter months is in the works, Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority board members said Thursday. 

The PWSA's recently formed affordability committee will help develop the fair payment policy.

The board considered a complete moratorium last month on water shutoffs between December and March for low-income residents who can't pay their bills but also rely on radiators heat their homes.

Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

The Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority is considering a temporary moratorium to prohibit all water shutoffs this winter for residential customers who don’t pay their water bills.

 

The moratorium, which would last from December through March, is meant to help customers who rely on radiators to heat their homes, but cannot afford the cost of water.

Margaret Krauss / 90.5 WESA

It’s been a rough couple of years for water in Pittsburgh: flush and boil advisories, billing issues and elevated lead levels, all stemming, in part, from a lack of investment in the organization as a whole over the past couple of decades. 

An-Li Herring / 90.5 WESA

In seven locations throughout the city, fire hydrants are continually spewing water --- more than 15 million gallons of water.

Jake Savitz / 90.5 WESA

While federal and state environmental regulators are in town this week examining the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority’s treatment processes, a city-hired consultant is working on its final recommendations to completely restructure the agency.

Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority

Officials from state and federal regulatory agencies are in town this week touring the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority’s water treatment plant in Aspinwall.

Governor Tom Wolf / Flickr

The Pennsylvania Senate could vote Monday or Tuesday on whether to put the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority under state oversight.

A bill that would empower the Public Utility Commission to oversee the embattled agency has been pending before the full Senate since June 30. When the chamber returns from summer recess Monday, it will have two days to act on the measure. Without action by Tuesday, the bill will be removed from the Senate calendar with the possibility of later consideration.

Michigan State University

The Heinz Family Foundation has announced the winners of this year’s Heinz Awards, which honor people who are breaking barriers in their fields and making a global impact.

Margaret J. Krauss / 90.5 WESA

At a public meeting Tuesday, officials from Tulsa, Okla. and Indianapolis, Ind. talked about the dramatic changes their city made to the provision of water and sewer services. 

Margaret J. Krauss / 90.5 WESA

Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority faces significant organizational issues—crumbling infrastructure, lead issues, steep debt—but soaring rates of short-term disability are not one of them, said interim executive director Bob Weimar.

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

Residents of Millvale are no longer under a flush and boil water advisory. Officials with Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority (PWSA) announced Sunday night that the Department of Environmental Protection had approved lifting the advisory.

Keith Srakocic / AP

It's been a busy week for the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority. A consultant found PWSA to be “a failed organization atop a dangerous and crumbling structure” in an initial assessment presented Monday. Hours later, the authority issued a flush-and-boil water order for 18,000 homes across the North Side, Millvale and Reserve Township related to holes in the cover on top of a water reservoir in Shaler Township.

Steve Johnson / flickr

Residents of Pittsburgh's northern neighborhoods and Reserve Township can again use water from their faucets. The Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority announced Thursday evening that the precautionary flush and boil advisory instituted Monday had been lifted.

The advisory has not been lifted in Millvale, however, where additional tests are required to verify that the water is safe.

Kathleen J. Davis / 90.5 WESA

An estimated 18,000 homes in Pittsburgh's northern neighborhoods, Millvale and Reserve Township will continue to be under a flush and boil water advisory until at least Thursday, Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority officials said Tuesday.

Margaret J. Krauss / 90.5 WESA

Before presenting initial findings on the state of the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority Monday, Steve Steckler of the consulting firm Infrastructure Management Group, Inc. said, “none of them are very good.”

Teens Earn And Learn While Educating Their Neighbors About Lead Exposure

Aug 17, 2017
Kara Holsopple / Allegheny Front

It’s a hot, sunny day in August, and high school students Mckayla Dixon, Anesa Reed, and Keith Jamison are working their summer jobs. The three teenagers are pounding the pavement, walking up and down hills, with clipboards in hand, hoping to talk with residents in Pittsburgh’s Lincoln-Lemington neighborhood about their exposure to lead.

Occurence of Trihalomethanes in the Nation's Ground Water and Drinking Water Supply Wells, 1985-2002 / United States Geological Survey

Lead isn't the only potential water contaminant Pittsburgh residents should worry about, according to researchers at the nonprofit Environmental Working Group.

The Washington, D.C.-based research and lobbying group this week launched a website that allows residents to look up which contaminants are present in the local drinking water supply, at what levels they exist and how those levels compare with state and national averages.

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

Pittsburgh City Council unanimously passed two measures Tuesday to clear the pipeline for removing and replacing the city’s lead water service lines.

The first measure allows the city to work with property owners to replace lead service lines on private property. The second requires property sellers to test for lead pipes and disclose those findings to the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority.

Kamil Kaczor / Flickr

Officials announced Tuesday that PWSA is back in compliance with federal standards for lead levels in drinking water. The next day, City Council gave preliminary approval to a bill that would allow the authority to replace the private side of residential lead service lines when it replaces the public side.

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