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House of Representatives
Session of 2017 - 2018 Regular Session


Posted: May 24, 2017 07:00 PM
From: Representative Mike Turzai and Rep. Harry Readshaw
To: All House members
Subject: Legislation to place the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority under the oversight of the Public Utility Commission
In the near future, Rep. Harry Readshaw and I will be introducing legislation to place the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority (PWSA) under the oversight of the Public Utility Commission (PUC.)

Over the last year, local and national newspapers have recounted the many service issues facing PWSA from multi-million dollar debt and uncollectibles, unmetered accounts, incorrect billing, system leaks and non-compliance with federal water quality mandates. These issues call into serious question the sustainability of PWSA and the health and safety of those served by the system.

The customers of PWSA need to know that their water is safe and that they are properly billed for their usage.

While the PUC does not currently have jurisdiction over the operations of municipal authorities, in the case of PWSA, regulatory oversight is needed to fix this deteriorating system and restore the confidence of PWSA’s customers. Placing PWSA under the regulatory authority of the PUC will require its board of directors to bring the system into compliance with the requirements of Title 66 of the PA Statutes and PUC regulations applicable to investor-owned water and wastewater utilities.

Under our bill, PWSA will be obligated to provide safe, reliable service to its customers and be subject to monetary penalties if it fails to do so. Additionally, PWSA’s customers will be assured the facilities used to deliver their service meet state and federal requirements, that their water is safe and that they are being accurately billed for their usage.

It is important to note that there is precedent for this legislation. In 1999, the legislature passed similar legislation which placed Philadelphia Gas Works under the oversight of the PUC.

The City of Pittsburgh and PWSA clearly need guidance and direction which could be provided by the PUC. This is a positive approach to get at a needed solution to address both an acute and long-term systemic problem with PWSA. In the end, this is about providing necessary help to protect the health and safety of those citizens relying on PWSA for provision of clean water.

Please join us in sponsoring this important legislation.

Introduced as HB1490