PWSA customers invited to participate in Public Utility Commission public hearings
June 22, 2021
The Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority (PWSA) will join the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) to hear public comment on its recent rate request.
On April 13, 2021, they filed a multi-year rate request with the PUC seeking an increase to current water rates, a slight decrease in wastewater conveyance rates, and a new stormwater fee. This request, if approved would result in a total rate increase of 17.1 percent to be recovered through an 11.7 percent rate increase or $22.0 million beginning in 2022 and a 5.4 percent rate increase or $10.2 million in 2023. The proposal also includes additional enhancements to customer assistance programs as well as discounts and incentives available to all customers.
If the entire request is approved as filed, the total bill for water, wastewater conveyance, and stormwater service for a typical residential customer using 3,000 gallons per month and charged the base rate for stormwater services would increase from $79.34 to $87.19 per month or by 9.89 percent in 2022 and increase from $87.19 to $91.05 or by 4.43 percent in 2023. For income-eligible residential customers enrolled in the Bill Discount Program using 3,000 gallons of water per month, the average bill would increase from $41.77 to $45.34 per month, or by 8.54 percent in 2022, and from $45.34 to $47.90 per month, or by 5.64 percent in 2023.
Stormwater is the number one pollutant in urban areas, and it is creating significant health and safety challenges in Pittsburgh. Rainstorms with increased intensity cause streets to flood, sewage to back up into homes, and raw sewage to overflow into our rivers and streams. Without dedicated funding to address these problems, they will only get worse.
PWSA has been focusing on improved stormwater management for several years. After deliberate analysis and input from stakeholders, the stormwater fee, if approved, would begin to address the wet weather challenges experienced in Pittsburgh. It would help to construct innovative stormwater infrastructure, advance several stormwater planning initiatives currently underway, and improve stormwater management across the city.
A stormwater fee based on impervious or hard surfaces is a more equitable way to charge for stormwater. Our rates are currently based on water usage, which does not consider the amount of runoff generated by a property. Using impervious surface as the standard unit of measure will ensure that each parcel within the city of Pittsburgh is contributing a proportional share to help address our most pressing wet weather challenges.
For more information about stormwater planning efforts and the fee, visit www.pgh2ostormwater.com.
Members of the public are welcome to attend the PUC hearings and provide comment for the public record. The hearings are an opportunity for customers to share their views on the authority's proposed rate request to the presiding PUC Administrative Law Judge, PWSA representatives, and other parties in the case.
The public input hearings will be held telephonically and will take place on the following dates and times.
• Monday, June 28 at 1 p.m. and 6 p.m.
• Tuesday, June 29 at 1 p.m. and 6 p.m.
• Wednesday, June 30 at 1 p.m. and 6 p.m.
The public hearings are part of the PUC's process to evaluate PWSA's recent proposal and need for this revenue. They will consider testimony from the public before making a final determination on the rate change. You do not need to be an expert to testify. Any testimony, whether supporting or opposing the Authority's request, can be helpful to the PUC's investigation. All testimony given under oath becomes part of the official rate case record.
To testify at these hearings, you must register by no later than June 25 at noon using one of the following options:
• Contact the Office of Consumer Advocate (OCA) at 1-800-684-6560 to provide your name, telephone number, and the topic of your testimony.
• Visit PWSA's website at www.pgh2o.com/news-events/events-meetings, choose the public input hearing and complete the registration form.
If you wish to only listen to the public input hearings, you may use the PWSA link above at any time to join or dial in using the following call-in information: Conference Number: +1 (312) 626-6799 Meeting ID: 897 5883 3506