Pittsburgh, PA - The board’s move will start 90 days of talks with city and PWSA officials on a new agreement to further implement efficiencies and improvements to the authority, which has already made several changes to make it more business-like, accountable, and modernized.
The new agreement will not impact the City’s ownership of the water system: it will remain a City-owned and public asset.
Instead it will cover technical aspects to the relationship between the PWSA and City, including pension payments, city government usage of water and other matters that have changed significantly since the last cooperation agreement was signed in 1995.
The action is consistent with the recommendation of the Mayor’s Blue Ribbon Panel Report of December 28, 2017, and with oversight by the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission, which favors a revised cooperation agreement that is consistent with its rules and regulations.
The group developing the new cooperation agreement will include at a minimum: the Chair of the PWSA Board, the Mayor’s Chief of Staff, and a City Council member appointed by the President of City Council. One panel member of the Blue Ribbon Commission is being asked to moderate the group. One or more staff members from the PUC will also be asked to participate in this process.
The board’s vote today is supported by Mayor William Peduto.
Plans are for the first draft of the new cooperation agreement to be completed within 45 days of today’s announcement. This will allow City Council to have a reasonable amount of time to approve the new Cooperation agreement before the old one expires in 90 days.
The cooperation agreement could cover matters including:
- Permitting the PWSA to reimburse the City for pension costs for authority employees covered by the City’s pension plans
- Allowing the City to charge PWSA the usual rates that other utilities pay for permit fees
- Charging the City for water usage, with a five-year phase-in starting in 2020.
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.