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House of Representatives
Session of 2017 - 2018 Regular Session


Posted: November 1, 2017 12:16 PM
From: Representative Dom Costa
To: All House members
Subject: State Receivership for the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority (PWSA)

In the near future, I will be introducing legislation proposing to place the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority (PWSA) under a form of state receivership, similar to Act 47 for municipalities, due to the authority’s continuing financial distress and operational mismanagement.

Under current Pennsylvania law, municipal water and sewer authorities are considered autonomous entities and are not regulated by the Public Utilities Commission (PUC). While PWSA is subject to the oversight of a board of directors, as well as the Office of the Attorney General, I believe, through my own personal experience, that an additional layer of checks and balances needs to be instituted.

My office has been inundated with phone calls from Pittsburgh ratepayers complaining about long-standing erroneous billing practices and repeated boil-water advisories that have seemingly fallen upon the deaf and unresponsive ears of PWSA and its board. In addition, PWSA has also found itself named as a defendant in a number of lawsuits filed against the authority for similar grievances. In an effort to address these issues and to ensure that ratepayers are provided with both responsive and impartial representation, my legislation proposes to do the following:
  • Establishes the Second Class City Municipal Water and Sewer Authority Oversight Board;
  • Places PWSA under the authority and oversight of the board if it determines that certain criteria are valid indications of distress; and
  • Requires the board to appoint a coordinator who will create and implement a recovery plan addressing the authority’s financial, managerial, and public health and safety problems.

While House Speaker Mike Turzai and Representative Harry Readshaw’s current House Bill 1490 is a step in the right direction towards ensuring that we are holding PWSA accountable, I believe that a state receivership framework similar to Act 47 is an additional layer of oversight that is needed to ensure the financial sustainability and appropriate management of the authority.

I ask you to please consider joining me as a co-sponsor of this legislation.