In October the Pittsburgh Infrastructure Authority approved a $49 million budget for the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority, or PWSA, making this the largest grant and loan given to the PWSA. The money will be used to replace lead pipes scattered throughout the city. As mentioned in a blog post I’ve written entitled H2-Oh No the PWSA’s lack of good judgment led to the city’s increased led exposure.
The budget is divided between a $13.7 million grant and a $35.4 million loan. The PWSA plan on replacing 2,100 residential connections. Service lines splits into two sections: publicly owned segments and privately owned segments. The grant and loan will allow the PWSA to keep replacing the segments when they contain lead.
In November, the PWSA will send out letters to customers who qualify for replacement pipes. According to the Pittsburgh Post Gazette the PWSA will place an emphasis on lower income neighborhoods. The PWSA’s sudden change of heart seems nice and all, but there are still so many unanswered questions! Will residents see a spike in water payment until the PWSA can pay back their loan to the Pittsburgh Infrastructure Authority or what’s to prevent the rise in lead levels from happening again?
Allegheny Country Controller Chelsa Wagner is skeptical of how efficient the replacements will be considering the expenses of pipe replacements. The bulk of the money will be spent in construction and undoing the current pipes.
Only time will tell if the PWSA will get their act together, but the water problem in Pittsburgh seems to be getting more concerning.