PWSA

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.

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.

Liz Reid / 90.5 WESA

Residents asked questions about the effects of lead poisoning, the cost of lead line replacement and the responsibilities of local landlords at a panel discussion about water issues Tuesday night.

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.

Liz Reid / 90.5 WESA

Every day, multiple times a day, Jesse Perkins runs the water in his kitchen sink for about a minute-and-a-half, until it runs cold, indicating that it’s fresh water from the main in the middle of his street. He does it before he fills up a glass of water or a pot for cooking.

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.

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.

Keith Srakocic / AP Photo

With no exceptions, the $1 million Safe Water Plan will distribute water filters to city residents to reduce exposure to lead. People living within the city’s boundaries are eligible to receive one, regardless of income level, whether they rent or own, or who their water provider is.

While it’s a start, Mayor Bill Peduto said this is not a long-term solution.

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.

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.

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

The precautionary boil order in effect for about half of the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority customers will most likely remain in place through the end of the week.

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

*UPDATED: Feb. 1, 2017 at 12:20 p.m. 

Approximately 100,000 Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority customers are under a flush and boil order.

The authority said the order for the central and eastern neighborhoods is “precautionary.”  

Liz Reid / 90.5 WESA

At more than three hours, Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority officials said the informational meeting they held Wednesday in Lawrenceville was one of the longest yet.

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.

Pages