Pittsburgh, PA… On November 8, 2017, the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority’s (PWSA) Board of Directors approved a $163 million operating budget for 2018 and voted to approve a multi-year rate increase beginning in 2018. The average residential customer can expect to see a total $15 adjustment in their monthly water and sewer bill starting on January 1, 2018. The multi-year rate plan has additional future rate increases of 10-percent in 2019 and 11-percent in 2020.
“The Board of Directors understands the burden any rate increase imposes on our customers,” stated PWSA Board Chair Debbie Lestitian. “However, over the years, our rates have remained low and we have not been able to make the necessary investment in our infrastructure and water system. The proposed 3-year rate increase provides the financial resources that we need to begin rebuilding our infrastructure.”
With focus on increased capital investment and needed infrastructure improvements, the budget and rate plan enables PWSA to deliver $75 million worth of capital water and sewer-related projects in 2018. Areas of focus for PWSA in the coming year include rehabilitation of the Lanpher Reservoir, upgrading the microfiltration water treatment plant at Highland Park Reservoir #1, and improvements to the Bruecken Pump Station.
An Administrative Order issued by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PADEP) establishes a priority to expedite these projects. Improvements to the Lanpher Reservoir are already underway. The improvements at the microfiltration plant will ensure that it meets regulatory compliance for treated water from the open Highland Park Reservoir #1. The Bruecken Pump Station project restores pump system redundancy in instances of power loss or equipment failure. In addition to the capital improvements, PWSA is also dedicating resources to lead abatement and corrosion control improvements.
To help ease the burden of the water rate increase, PWSA adopted a customer assistance program, known as the “Bill Discount Program.” It will provide customers with financial relief if they are having difficulty paying their water and sewer bill. Customers are eligible if they are at or below 150-percent of the Federal Poverty Level. Dollar Energy Fund will work with customers to determine their eligibility and, if approved, will receive a 50-percent reduction of their fixed or minimum monthly water charges for one year. After one year, customers will have to reapply to maintain their eligibility.
“It is an honor to approve PWSA’s customer assistance program,” stated PWSA Board Chair, Debbie Lestitian. “I feel that this is a long-awaited service for our low-income customers, and our hope is that this program will help them meet the obligations of paying their water and sewer bill.”
PWSA’s Organizational and Compliance Plan was presented at today’s board meeting. It provides a roadmap for meeting the objectives defined in the adopted 2018 budget, and outlines five specific goals that provide the foundation for PWSA to become a trusted public utility valued by its community. The goals focus on the protection of public health, customer satisfaction, infrastructure reliability, as well as establishing organizational efficiencies and maintaining a high-performing workforce. Measurable action items and performance metrics support these goals and enable PWSA to achieve specific outcomes and determine success.
“I am proud to present this plan, the 2018 budget and rate plan, and the customer assistance program to the Pittsburgh community today,” stated Robert Weimar, PWSA Interim Executive Director. “It demonstrates our commitment to improving operations and overcoming the challenges we have recently experienced. PWSA recognizes its responsibility to address the needs of its customers. We strive to have our employees drive our vision to become an organization that is recognized for excellence and public trust.”
For more information about PWSA and the 2018 Budget and 3-Year Rate Plan, please visit www.pgh2o.com
About PWSA - The Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority (PWSA) is the largest combined water, sewer and stormwater authority in Pennsylvania, serving 300,000 consumers throughout the City of Pittsburgh and surrounding areas.