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At PWSA, no clear leadership hierarchy

| Monday, March 13, 2017, 6:06 p.m.
Nate Smallwood | Tribune-Review
Bernard R. Lindstrom's contract to serve as interim director of the Pittsburgh Water & Sewer Authority expired Sunday, March 12, 2017.

By the close of business Monday, it remained unclear who was in charge of operations at the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority.

The six-month, $100,000 contract for interim Director Bernard R. Lindstrom expired Sunday.

As of 5 p.m. Monday, officials from Mayor Bill Peduto's administration and PWSA's seven-member board told the Tribune-Review they still were in talks with Lindstrom about extending his contract.

“We remain in discussions with Col. Lindstrom and invited him to remain with PWSA as executive director,” said Peduto's chief of staff, Kevin Acklin.

“Negotiations with Mr. Lindstrom continue,” said PWSA spokesman Will Pickering. He would not say whether a person other than Lindstrom was serving as acting director during the negotiations.

Lindstrom, a 28-year Army Corps of Engineers veteran from Upper St. Clair, did not return several requests for comment. Neither did PWSA board Chair Alex Thomson.

Acklin told the Trib on Friday that Peduto has valued Lindstrom's leadership and wants him to stay. The mayor said he would like Lindstrom to oversee PWSA while his administration explores a major restructuring of the debt- and controversy-laden authority.

PWSA has been without a permanent leader since Jim Good resigned last March.

Directors voted in late July to appoint K. Charles Griffin, a county administrator in Virginia, as executive director, but he withdrew after questions surfaced about his termination from a similar position in South Carolina.

David Donahoe, former director of the Allegheny County Regional Asset District, was interim director before Lindstrom assumed the post Sept. 12.

Meanwhile, PWSA has confronted multiple public relations crises, from customer complaints over overbilling to a two-and-a-half-day flush and boil order that affected one-third of the city last month.

At a Feb. 2 news conference to declare the boil order had been lifted , Lindstrom said the authority was at an “all-time low” in terms of not only staff and customer morale but also capabilities.

When Lindstrom was hired, Thomson told the Trib the board intended to do a “robust and full search” to hire a permanent director by April.

Natasha Lindstrom is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach her at 412-380-8514 or nlindstrom@tribweb.com.

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