THE PITTSBURGH WATER AND SEWER AUTHORITY (PWSA) IS ENTERING A NEW ERA – one with a renewed emphasis on public health, the environment, and our responsibility as steadfast stewards of the vital water services our region relies on each day.
There are many exciting projects underway at PWSA that directly support this evolution. While our work as public servants is never done, I’m confident the strategic priorities we’ve been undertaking will further transform our water system while rebuilding trust with the public we serve.
The following full YEAR IN REVIEW highlights much more of the work we’re undertaking to support our transformation into a trusted community utility partner.
In KEY ACCOMPLISHMENTS, we further explain some priority programs and highlight additional efforts we’re leading. From water main and lead service line replacements to sewer rehabilitation and more, the work we’re performing shows our commitment to supporting our region through the delivery of safe and reliable water services.
We also summarize our FINANCIAL HEALTH, describing our current financial standing and projection for the coming years. Additionally, we highlight our success in securing state and federal funding to support our infrastructure investment.
We include PERFORMANCE METRICS that provide information about our daily operational performance. From the quantity and quality of our customer service calls, to the miles of pipes, catch basins, and hydrants we replace, our PWSA teams are going above and beyond to deliver the water services you expect.
Lastly, we highlight pertinent water, sewer, and stormwater CAPITAL INVESTMENT accomplishments. These critical projects highlight efforts to improve our infrastructure and manage stormwater in our neighborhoods.
ENVIRONMENTAL COMPLIANCE AND ETHICS
A key element of our ongoing transformation centers on a renewed focus on environmental compliance and ethics. We’ve made – and continue to make – great strides in this critical area, setting in motion what we’re confident will be a lasting and sustained cultural shift that places these ideals front-of-mind in everything we do.
Our recently established Environmental Compliance Program is the cornerstone of this commitment to operating in accordance with the strict requirements of the law and in a manner consistent with high ethical and professional standards in the delivery of drinking water, wastewater, and stormwater services to our customers. This program is multifaceted, consisting of, for example, organization-wide policies around ethics, conduct, and training, and the development of an Environmental Compliance Manual.
Leading these efforts is Frank Sidari, PWSA’s former Environmental Compliance Manager for Water Production and Supply at our Water Treatment Plant. Mr. Sidari is a board-certified engineer who has more than 20 years of experience in drinking water systems.
CULTURE OF DIVERSITY, EQUITY, AND INCLUSION
To drive a cultural foundation of diversity, equity, and inclusion, the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority developed and implemented a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion policy to build and maintain a diverse workforce and talent pipeline. To equip all employees with the tools to facilitate an inclusive environment, we provided diversity and inclusion training as well as anti-harassment training to foster a work environment where all employees are treated with dignity and respect.
As an agency that serves Pittsburgh, we are striving to create a workforce that represents the diversity of our communities and provides gainful employment opportunities to its residents. In 2021, we participated with the Pittsburgh Black Elected Officials Coalition by attending two of their recruitment events in person to expand awareness about employment opportunities.
NEW RATE STRUCTURE
On January 12, 2022, rate changes, including a new stormwater fee, went into effect. The new rates and the implementation of the stormwater fee reflect the ongoing renewal of our water and sewer infrastructure and will significantly change how we fund stormwater improvements.
Historically, we have funded stormwater services from wastewater rates that are based on water usage. Having a stormwater fee based on the hard or impervious surfaces on a property ensures that all property owners in Pittsburgh contribute a share that is proportional to the amount of runoff generated by their property. Basing the fee on hard surfaces such as roofs, driveways, and parking lots is a more equitable way to charge for stormwater and ensures that all property owners pay their fair share.
ENHANCED CUSTOMER ASSISTANCE PROGRAMS
In 2021, we set a goal to expand awareness and increase enrollment in our Customer Assistance Programs. This past year, our newly launched PGH2O Cares team hit the ground running to reach those most in need of these essential programs. As a result of their relentless work, 5,217 customers were enrolled in our Bill Discount Program.
As part of our 2021 rate setting process, further enhancements were made to our Customer Assistance Programs to simplify the enrollment process and offer more discounts to more customers. The program enhancements went into effect on January 12, 2022.
Average Answer Speed
- 28 seconds
Call Handling Rate
- 98.3 percent of 134,332 calls
Average Handling Time
- 5 minutes, 2 seconds
- 1.5 percent of total calls
Social Media Response Rate
- Nearly 100% within 3 business days
Social Media and Newsletter
- 13,276 subscribers
MANAGEMENT INFORMATION SYSTEMS
Average Critical Information Infrastructure Availability
- >99% of the time
Support Requests Received
Water Main Replaced
- 9.1 miles
Public-Side Lead Service Lines Replaced
Private-Side Lead Service Lines Replaced
- 1.9 miles
- 9 miles
Storm Drains Replaced
Water Meters Repaired/Replaced
Hydrants Flushed and Inspected
Debris Removed From Storm Drains
- 7,751 tons
Sewer Mains Inspected
WATER TREATMENT PLANT & LAB
Daily Average of Finished Water Produced
- 66 million gallons
Our cash balance is at its highest level in at least the last decade and, for the third consecutive year, capital spending has exceeded $100,000,000. To ensure maximum financial flexibility, we continue to boost our reserve funding that in the long-term will help to reduce costs and create a more sustainable financial future for the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority
Our historic capital investment will significantly shape the water future of Pittsburgh for years to come. We are well poised to implement our ambitious 2022 – 2026 $1.4 billion Capital Improvement Plan, which includes large, generational projects to rehabilitate critical components of our water pumping and distribution systems and funds our lead service line replacement, sewer rehabilitation, and stormwater improvements.
The Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority continues to responsibly invest large sums of funding into critical water, sewer, and stormwater infrastructure improvements. In 2021, our total capital investment amounted to $106,396,248. Projects benefiting from this investment include water main and lead service line replacements, sewer rehabilitation and reconstruction, storm drain replacement, and stormwater management projects.
WATER AND SEWER SYSTEM IMPROVEMENTS BY THE NUMBERS:
- 9.1 miles of water main replaced
- 620 public-side lead service lines replaced
- 514 private-side lead service lines replaced
- 1.9 miles of sewer reconstructed
- 9 miles of sewer rehabilitated
- 797 storm drains replaced
While the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority is making historic investments in water infrastructure, we are also investing in the technology infrastructure that is needed to modernize internal business operations and provide a better digital experience for our customers. In 2021, several technology improvements, including the launch of a new electronic billing and payment portal, the deployment of a digital document management system, expansion of internal and external applications for using ArcGIS, and a new online permitting system were made.
These projects are only a start. Currently in development is a new state-of-the-art Customer Information System. This project, which we anticipate completing in 2022, is an important step in PWSA’s evolution to offer modern self-service options for customers and streamline routine processes that will enhance staff efficiencies and day-to-day operations.
EXPANDED COMMUNITY PARTNERSHIPS
From the Allegheny Overlook to the Schenley Grand Prix and a BikePGH event in Mellon Park, we supplied water to numerous community events throughout Pittsburgh. These sponsorships reflect one of the many ways we are becoming a better community partner.
Awards & Recognitions
THE PITTSBURGH WATER AND SEWER AUTHORITY WAS THE RECIPIENT OF SEVERAL AWARDS AND RECOGNITIONS IN 2021
Water Environment Federation
- Utility of the Future Today
Western Pennsylvania Water Pollution Control Association (WPWPCA)
- Alfred Bologna Water Control Achievement Award - Laboratory Project Manager, Linda Leopold
- Engineer’s Service Award - Senior Engineering Project Manager, Rob Herring
- Special Districts 2021 Technology Innovation Award - Customer Service Managers Tishla Jones, Tracy Willy, Brittany Schacht, Sharon Gottschalk, and Crystal Thurston
NRG Energy, Inc.
- Excellence in Energy Award in the Sustainability Category - Sustainability Manager, James Stitt