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Customer Frequently Asked Questions

 

Below is a collection of our frequently asked questions PDFs that we handout and share with our customers.



Click on the links below to view or download each file.

I received a high consumption letter, what do I do?

If you are unaware of any changes in water consumption that would cause such an increase, we urge you to take action to correct a potential internal problem. We recommend having the property checked for any internal leaks.

For easy tips on how to check your home for a leak before hiring a plumber, please visit http://www.pgh2o.com/leakdetectiontips  .

Please remember that internal plumbing problems are the responsibility of the property owner and will not be investigated by The Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority (PWSA). If no leaks or internal plumbing problems can be detected, please contact Customer Service at 412.255.2423 to discuss the daily meter reading history.


How are bills estimated for residential customers?

An estimated bill is calculated in various ways based on an individual customer’s unique history.  We invite you to contact customer service with any questions about your bill, but here are some scenarios explaining the most common methods of estimating a bill:

Example 1:  A customer has 12 months of historical usage.  The June 2015 bill would be estimated to reflect the read date closest to June 1, 2014 (one year prior to the current read date of June 1, 2015).

Example 2: A customer does NOT have 12 months of historical usage.  The June 2015 bill would be estimated based upon the average of the monthly usage available; so if six months of monthly usage were available, the estimated bill would be the average of those six months usage.


Why has PWSA replaced my former automated reading system?

PWSA is currently upgrading its automated reading system.

The meter exchange unit (MXU), the device that transmits the actual meter read, provides the benefit of two-way communication to and from the unit.  This will eventually provide customers with access to real-time water consumption information.


Why has PWSA replaced my former meter?

PWSA is currently replacing some of the existing older meters. 

Existing older meters may register readings that are lower than the actual consumption.  The readings from the new meters will be more accurate and may be higher than past readings. 


My bill is higher than my previous month’s bill. Why is this?

On January 1, 2015, both PWSA and ALCOSAN increased their rates, both of which appear on the PWSA bill.  The rates for ALCOSAN were increased by 11 percent and PWSA by 4 percent.  This means that even if you use the same amount of water that you did last year, your bill will increase by 15 percent.  As an example, if your bill was previously $50, your new bill will be $57.50 for the same consumption.

There can be many reasons for this including higher usage, leaks, the transition to the MXU and rate increases.  You may simply be using more water for gardens, car washes, pools, etc.

Please check to make sure your hoses, faucets and toilets are not leaking.  Even if there are no leaks, check to make sure no water is running, especially your toilets.  A running toilet can use over 1,000 gallons per day.

During the transition to the MXU, PWSA may have provided you with estimated bills.  When PWSA receives an actual read from your meter, you will receive a bill called a “Catch-Up Consumption Bill.”   The Catch-Up Consumption Bill may cover more than one consecutive billing cycle and, as a result, may be larger than a usual bill.  Be assured, you will only pay for the water you used.


Why has my bill gone up?

Your bill reflects an actual reading vs. an estimated bill, which may be higher than you are used to.

If it seems unusually high, this may be due to an internal leak from hoses, faucets or toilets.

PWSA’s customer service representatives can advise and assist with any other factors that may be contributing to the issue.

Customers can call PWSA at 412-255-2423.


Why do I still get a minimum water usage charge every month even though I turn off my water before I go away for the winter?

  • There is a minimum monthly charge applicable whenever a customer has access to our distribution system. 
  • Customers who turn their water off using their internal valve still have access to public water and are charged the monthly fee; however, if they have PWSA shut the water service at the curb stop, they will not be charged the minimum fee.
    • Customers can call PWSA at 412-255-2423 to shut and turn back on at the curb stop, as long as ample notice is given to schedule it (approximately 2 weeks’ notice).
  • The minimum charge is to ensure PWSA can cover the expenses for providing access to the public water supply, regardless of demand. 
  • Some notes about turning water off and on at the curb box:
    • There is a one-time fee of $50 to turn off water at the curb box, and this includes turning water back on when the customer requests.  
    • Customers need to complete a Residential Shut Request Form, which can be obtained by calling Customer Service at 412-255-2423 or downloading from our website available on http://pgh2o.com/forms.  Customers should include why they are requesting the shut off (i.e. they are going out of town for an extended period of time).
    • Curb boxes are sometimes buried, and if the box cannot be located, we send a contractor out to dig it to make it accessible – this is done at no cost to the customer.
    • Since winter is very hectic with emergencies, we encourage customers to call PWSA dispatch as early as possible at 412-255-2423, ideally requesting to have a curb box located in the summer. This will save everyone time in the winter when curb boxes are not considered to be an emergency and could get bumped on the schedule for weeks to accommodate emergencies.  
  • When customers are ready to have water shut off or turned back on, it is again best to request several weeks in advance.
  • To summarize: PWSA will locate curb box (and dig it, replace it, etc.) at no charge. A one-time fee of $50 is required to turn water off and on at the curb box, and customers need to fill out and submit a shut-off request form. 

We have water line breaks on my street every year, why aren’t you replacing the lines?

PWSA has a long-term capital improvement implementation plan, which gets evaluated annually. Because the need for infrastructure improvement is so large, PWSA must prioritize repairs in a very specific, strategic way.

Pittsburgh’s infrastructure is extremely old, and unfortunately the replacement needs exceed the amount of money the Authority has to fix them.

PWSA’s top priorities include: any infrastructure that affects hospitals, emergency response locations, schools, areas with large numbers of customers, near major roadways, etc.

Even if a few breaks occur frequently on a street, PWSA will perform “hydrant testing.”  If adequate flow is going to the hydrants on a street, the water line is actually in satisfactory condition and not in imminent need of replacement. The ability to provide emergency services to your street is the priority.


Why is my water cloudy (or discolored/brown)?

PWSA may be flushing hydrants or repairing a line near your home. Hydrant flushing is necessary to test the hydrants to ensure that adequate flow and pressure is available. Flushing also removes sediment from the distribution pipes to maintain water clarity and quality. 

Occasionally, water can become discolored after hydrant flushing or during water line repairs, however it is safe to drink.   If your water is cloudy or discolored/brown, run your faucet on cold at the lowest point of the house, until water runs clear (about 10-15 minutes).

If it doesn't clear the first time, wait a few minutes and repeat this process. Avoid washing clothes until the water clears.

If water is not clear after 15 minutes, call PWSA Dispatch at 412-255-2423. 


My sidewalk needs to be repaired from a break, why is it taking so long?

PWSA tries to be as cost-effective as possible when performing expensive restoration work.

We cluster our projects in a particular neighborhood so contractors only need to mobilize equipment once and can take care of all the work in that area. This prevents the high costs of doing one job at a time and saves customers money.

We understand and apologize for the inconvenience of waiting, but we do appreciate your understanding and patience.


PWSA dug up my yard, when will you come out to service my site?

Customers are serviced in accordance to the level of service needed.

Please note that customers with urgent issues are serviced first and crews fix emergency leaks and outages first.

We will make every effort to service your site within 10 business days or sooner; however, if other emergencies occur, the crews will take care of those first and come back to make restorations, unless the restoration site itself poses a safety or emergency issue.


I need my service restored at the curb stop, can you assist me?

For residential customers: PWSA is responsible for restoring service at the curb stop. A property address must be given for maintenance personnel to come and restore water.

For commercial customers: The Customer is responsible for this section of the water service line. 


Where is my service line, can PWSA locate it for me?

PWSA only has maps of city-owned infrastructure; we do not have maps showing where private service lines connect to our system.

Customers will need to hire a private plumber to identify the location of your line.


I have a leak on my service line, is PWSA responsible to fix it?

For residential customers: The Customer is responsible for their service line to the curb stop. PWSA can send a leak detection team to determine if the leak is on your side of the service line. If it is, you will need to call a private plumber to fix the leak, if it is on the other side of the line PWSA will schedule to make repairs.

For commercial customers: The Customer is responsible for the service line to the water main.   


My catch basin is overflowing, can you assist me?

The most beneficial information a resident can provide is an address, which will point maintenance crews from PWSA to the location.

A photo of the drain in question is also very helpful, as it will give the PWSA crew an idea of the necessary materials.

This information can be sent to Antoinette Palmieri at APalmieri@pgh2o.com or via the PWSA Twitter account, @pgh2o


I have a change of address and have not received my bill.

The address changes are in our billing department and will be updated. We can resend you a bill.
 


All questions regarding insurance claims

Please contact Tracy Smith, risk services manager, at 412-255-2376 or tsmith@pgh2o.com


For Delayed Sewage-Only Bills

I have not received my sewage bill, why is this?

These delays are caused by the receipt of external data incompatible with our billing system, ultimately resulting in a lack of information needed to process sewage bills for many of our sewage-only customers.

What is being done to fix this?

  • PWSA is actively working to correct this issue. In an effort to alleviate any financial burden these delayed bills have caused we have created payment plans for our customers, with no penalty charges.
  • Customers with a delayed bill balance of $200 and under will automatically be enrolled in a three-month payment plan.
  • Customers with a delayed bill balance over $200 will automatically be enrolled in a six-month payment plan.
  • Please note that these plans will not prohibit customers from paying in full.

 


PWSA is committed to working with its customers.

If you have additional questions about your bill or service, please contact PWSA Customer Service at 412-255-2423 or send an email to info@pgh2o.com.  Our office hours are Monday through Friday, 8:00 am to 6:00 pm.

We appreciate your business!