PUC approves nearly 14 percent PWSA water rate increase for Pittsburgh | TribLIVE.com

PUC approves nearly 14 percent PWSA water rate increase for Pittsburgh

Bob Bauder
The Pittsburgh Water & Sewer Authority drinking water treatment facility is along Freeport Road near Aspinwall.

Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority customers will pay about 14 percent more for water and sewer services under a rate hike approved Thursday morning by the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission.

Public utility commissioners unanimously approved the increase, which represents a settlement between PWSA and various objectors, including the state’s Office of Consumer Advocate, Office of Small Business Advocate and Pittsburgh United, a local coalition of community, labor, faith, and environmental organizations.

The authority, which provides water and sewer services to about 80,000 customers in Pittsburgh and surrounding communities, had sought a 16.7 percent increase.

PWSA fees for average residential water and sewage customers using 3,000 gallons of water per month would increase from $63.62 to $72.49, or 13.9 percent. The fees are expected to bring in an additional $21 million in revenue per year and help fund PWSA’s operation and capital improvement plans.

It was unclear when the increase would take effect. PWSA officials were not immediately available for comment. The PUC previously prohibited PWSA from raising rates until March 31.

PWSA, which has a cooperative agreement with Pittsburgh to manage and operate the city-owned sewer and water system, has struggled for years to manage overwhelming debt, system breakdowns and dangerous lead levels in drinking water. Officials have blamed the problems on a reluctance by past city and PWSA officials to raise water and sewer rates, the authority’s only revenue source.

PWSA officials in 2016 began taking steps to address the problems, including major capital improvement and a program designed to rid the city of all lead water lines. The board of directors approved a $158 million capital program for 2019, more than double the $70 million budgeted last year.

Bob Bauder is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Bob at 412-765-2312, [email protected] or via Twitter @bobbauder.

Bob Bauder is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Bob at 412-765-2312, [email protected] or via Twitter .

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