South Pittsburgh Reporter - Serving South Pittsburgh Since 1939

Representatives call for PUC to oversee PWSA

 


House Speaker Mike Turzai (R-Allegheny) and Rep. Harry Readshaw (D-Allegheny) will be introducing legislation to place the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority (PWSA) under the oversight of the Public Utility Commission (PUC).

Over the last year, local and national newspapers have recounted many service issues facing PWSA. They include multi-million dollar debt and uncollectibles, unmetered accounts, incorrect billing, system leaks, and noncompliance with federal water quality mandates. Additionally, the system has thousands of lead service lines, many of which have not been identified or located.

“The citizens served by the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority need safe water like everyone in the Commonwealth,” said Rep. Turzai. “The stability of the authority to serve its customers requires fiscal responsibility and best practices, both of which are lacking. We want to work collaboratively with the mayor and our colleagues in the General Assembly to address PWSAs persistent problems.”

“This legislation is about consumer protection and the health and safety of those served by the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority,” said Rep. Readshaw. “This is really a commonsense approach that will move the system in a positive direction.”

PUC oversight is crucial to correcting the authority’s long-standing difficulties. The PUC has the power to demand sound financial practices, systemic upgrades to infrastructure and reliable service delivery to customers.

“The city and the authority clearly need guidance and direction that will be provided by the PUC. This positive approach addresses systemic problems with the authority and will ultimately best serve the customers of PWSA,” said Rep. Turzai.

Mayor William Peduto issued a statement following the announcement recommending legislation to place the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority (PWSA) under the oversight of the Public Utility Commission (PUC): 

“We are not opposed to additional state cooperation to improve our water and sewer authority for residents of our city, and we have been working hard with the state Department of Environmental Protection to complete a full restructuring of PWSA. We welcome further conversations about this proposed PUC legislation, and are already inviting additional oversight and financial support from Harrisburg to help us rebuild our water system.

“The legislation would need to assure residents of Pittsburgh that the water system remains a public asset, and that PUC oversight would not be used as a mechanism to force privatization.” 

 

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