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PWSA to vote in 2 weeks on proposed moratorium on service shutoffs

Bob Bauder
| Thursday, Oct. 12, 2017, 5:45 p.m.
The Pittsburgh Water & Sewer Authority drinking water treatment facility along Freeport Road near Aspinwall.
The Pittsburgh Water & Sewer Authority drinking water treatment facility along Freeport Road near Aspinwall.

The Pittsburgh Water & Sewer Authority's board of directors Thursday inched closer to halting the practice of shutting off service to residential customers who fail to pay their water bills.

Members voted unanimously to approve a resolution requiring staff to develop written guidelines for a moratorium on water shutoffs during winter months based on income eligibility.

Guidelines must be finished in time for the board's next meeting at month's end.

“I don't think there's any doubt that we'll approve this,” said Paul Leger, the board treasurer, who also serves as Pittsburgh's finance director. “We just didn't have a full enough program yet or data to proceed. In order to tell people what to do to avoid a water shut off we have to have a couple of things. We have to know what your income is, how we verify that and what the other rules are for this.”

The board last month proposed the moratorium from December through March for people who meet income guidelines.

It would essentially be the same as that of the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission, which prohibits gas and electric companies to cease residential service between those months, Leger said.

“It's not just water,” he said. “If you have hot water heat in your house, and you get your water shut off, then you have no heat.”

Bob Bauder is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 412-765-2312, bbauder@tribweb.com or via Twitter @bobbauder.

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