HARRISBURG – Speaker of the House Mike Turzai (R-Allegheny) released the following statement regarding Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority’s (PWSA) continued mismanagement and the need for changes:
“The PWSA, in its current form, has been grossly mismanaged for decades, so much so that we needed to place it under the control of the Public Utility Commission (PUC) to provide more oversight, ensure fiscal responsibility and demand best practices. Now, over six months later, we still do not have a picture of how bad the PWSA’s problems are.”
A consultant’s report issued in August by Infrastructure Management Group called the PWSA “a failed organization atop a dangerous and crumbling structure.” The report noted a dysfunctional culture at the authority and exposed the fact that about 20 percent of PWSA’s 250 employees are out of work on short-term disability. PWSA is not able to bill for approximately 50 percent of clean water its system produces due to leaky pipes and unbilled accounts. Under a 1995 agreement with the city of Pittsburgh, PWSA agreed to provide 600 million gallons of free water to the city per year. However, the PWSA does not track how much water the city uses annually because many city-owned properties are not metered.
“There should be no agreement for free water for the city government to use while citizens and businesses in the city have had to pay increased rates. The people deserve to know who is getting the water for free and need to know now. Mayor Bill Peduto and city council must provide these answers.
“There is a reason why you never read about a private company doing these types of things; it’s because they would never be allowed to get away with operating way the PWSA has. The PWSA should immediately meter all Pittsburgh city buildings so the public can know how much water is being used by the city and any other facility getting water for free. The 1995 agreement should be declared null and void as unconscionable.”
Act 65 of 2017 was signed into law on Dec. 21, 2017, and the law became effective on April 1, 2018, to allow the PWSA and the PUC time to prepare for the transition. The law placed the PWSA under PUC oversight and required the PWSA’s board of directors to bring the system into compliance with the requirements of Title 66 of the PA Statutes and PUC regulations applicable to investor-owned water and wastewater utilities. On March 15, 2018, the PUC approved the Final Implementation Order by a 5-0 vote. The order details ratemaking, tariff approval, compliance plans, infrastructure improvements, consumer protections and other issues related to the implementation of Act 65.
Representative Mike Turzai
Speaker of the House
Pennsylvania House of Representatives