PWSA

Matt Nemeth / 90.5 WESA

The Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority proposed mixing green and gray infrastructure to reduce the amount of raw sewage flowing into the Ohio River. 

The draft “Green First Plan” calls for millions of dollars in water retention systems that are both above and below ground. The systems would range from cement cisterns that hold water during rainy days to be processed later, to green spaces that can absorb storm water runoff into the ground.  

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.

City of Pittsburgh

Municipal officials hope to submit a final “green first” plan for dealing with the region’s stormwater management problem to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency by the end of this year.

The plan relies heavily on green infrastructure, which involves planting trees and restoring the natural water cycle.

Evan Vucci / 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. They’ll go behind the headlines taking an in-depth look at the stories important to the Pittsburgh region.

Topics for this week include a discussion of the Marcellus Shale Insight conference which took place at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center. We'll try to discover what issues are on the agenda for state lawmakers as they return to Harrisburg. Looking ahead we'll discover what Pittsburgh-related items are on display at the Smithsonian's National Museum of African American History and Culture.

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.

King William County Government

 

The newly chosen executive director of the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority has withdrawn his position after questions surfaced over his termination from a previous job.

"The PWSA Board has accepted the withdrawal of Dr. K. Charles Griffin to become its next executive director," officials said in a statement. "The Board is presently evaluating options for next steps in the search for a candidate to fill the position on a permanent basis."

Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

  The Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority is defending its newly hired executive director, a county administrator from Virginia who reportedly parted ways from a similar post in South Carolina under less-than-ideal circumstances.

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.

Pittsburgh Sewer and Water Authority

In 2014, the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority changed the treatment chemical used to prevent the corrosion of lead pipes, which keeps the toxic metal from leaching into drinking water.

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection said the switch—from soda ash to caustic soda—posed no threat to public health, but the DEP has cited PWSA for not clearing the change with the agency first, as is required by the state's safe drinking water regulations.

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.

Archives Service Center / University of Pittsburgh

 

Officials want to find out if making Negley Run back into an open stream will help reduce sewage overflow when it rains.

Area water management utilities, along with local, state and federal governments continue to work on infrastructure upgrades that will drastically reduce the amount of raw sewage that overflows into area rivers during wet weather. 

That’s why the Army Corps of Engineers announced in December it would contribute $1 million to help fund a study on Negley Run.

Courtesy RedZone Robotics

Robots are everywhere nowadays: playing Scrabble, entering disaster zones, even gambling. Now they’re also inspecting city sewers.

The Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority teamed with RedZone Robotics to use robots to examine Pittsburgh’s sewage lines.

After nearly a year of study and work from water suppliers, state officials, environmental groups and others, a plan has been announced to protect drinking water from its source – the rivers.

The River Alert Information Network (RAIN) announced the Lower Allegheny Regional Partnership and the Lower Monongahela Regional Partnership. It’s a consortium of water suppliers which, in addition to protection, will employ an early-warning spill detection system.

After three years of grappling with the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority, some Pittsburghers are fed up and heading to court.

The class-action lawsuit, filed May 18 in Allegheny County Common Pleas Court on behalf of Millvale property owner Susan Newman and "anyone who is a rate payer or biller," credits PWSA for eleven complaints, including breach of contract, common law fraud and civil conspiracy.

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.

Mark Nootbaar / 90.5 WESA

The Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority’s (PWSA) monthly bills for January and February confused many with an “estimate bill” as a result of a new system that cannot read the old meters.

About 3,500 customers’ meters are now outdated, and as a result the meter could not be read electronically as newer models are.  So instead of a regular bill, the PWSA sent out estimates based on past bills.  

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.

Jessica Nath / 90.5 WESA

Instead of overflowing sewer systems and creating flooding, a new project will take rain water and use it to maintain a newly planted meadow in Schenley Park.

Officials from the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy, ALCOSAN and the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority (PWSA) announced Thursday the construction of two green rain water management projects in the park in Oakland.

In 2008, the Environmental Protection Agency issued a consent decree to the Pittsburgh region to eliminate sewage contamination entering local rivers and streams.

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.”

About 750 miles of sewer laterals, or the pipes that connect private homes to the publicly-owned main sewer lines, run underneath Pittsburgh – many of which are damaged.

That’s according to Senator Wayne Fontana (D-Allegheny), who said repairing and replacing these pipes can cost anywhere from $5,000 to $35,000, and that burden falls on the homeowners.

But he said his legislation aims to solve that problem.

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.

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.