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Pennsylvania House approves proposal to put PWSA under state commission

| Thursday, June 8, 2017, 11:27 a.m.
James Knox | Tribune-Review
Rep. Mike Turzai leaves after speaking to the media on Friday July 11, 2014, inside the Allegheny County Courthouse in downtown Pittsburgh.
Stephanie Strasburg | Tribune-Review
State Rep. Harry A. Readshaw, D-Carrick, campaigns outside of the IBEW Local No. 5 in the South Side as voters walk in for the Allegheny County Democratic Committee annual endorsement meeting on Sunday, March 9, 2014.

A proposal to move the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority under the oversight of a state commission passed the House 195-0 on Thursday.

Pennsylvania House Speaker Mike Turzai, R-Marshall, and state Rep. Harry Readshaw, D-Carrick, sponsored the bill, which would place PWSA under the state's Public Utility Commission.

Lawmakers hope the move would help alleviate some of PWSA's issues.

The authority, which serves more than 500,000, has been exceeding a federal lead threshold for nearly a year, has more than $700 million in debt, a revolving door of leadership and numerous customer service issues.

“PUC oversight is crucial to correcting the authority's long-standing difficulties. The PUC has the power to demand sound financial practices, systemic upgrades to infrastructure and reliable service delivery to customers,” a news release from Turzai's office stated.

Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto has said he supports the legislation , though he was not consulted about it in advance.

The bill will now move to the state Senate.

Theresa Clift is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach her at 412-380-5669, or via Twitter @tclift.

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