FOLLOWING YET ANOTHER LANDMARK YEAR, we’re confident that PWSA has never been in a better position to fulfill our mission: to support our region by protecting public health and the environment through the delivery of safe and reliable water services.
Award-winning, nationally recognized initiatives like our Community Lead Response have moved the needle on getting the lead out of our drinking water system. In fact, since 2020, we’ve recorded some of the lowest lead levels in our history. In the years ahead, we’ll continue those efforts to get the lead out, and efforts to prioritize transparency and proactive communication around the quality of your drinking water.
In the past year, we passed several key milestones in our slate of Water Reliability Plan projects, including the replacement of our Highland II Reservoir liner and cover, a massive undertaking, but one that showcases our commitment to the maintenance and improvement of our essential water distribution system now and into the future.
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.
WATER RELIABILITY PLAN PROGRESS
In 2021, we announced the Water Reliability Plan, a series of once-in-a-generation projects that will renew key components of our water production and distribution system. To date, we’ve made significant progress towards our end goal of finalizing this massive, multiyear effort to add decades of useful life to our most critical water infrastructure, including the completion of two projects within the past year.
Our recently completed Highland II Reservoir Liner and Cover Replacement project, the largest of its kind in North America in 2022, will ensure the long-term reliability and security of this critical reservoir, which supplies water to portions of Squirrel Hill, Downtown, South Side, and West End. Our Rising Main 3 Rehabilitation project involved the revitalization of this large diameter pipe that moves water uphill from our Bruecken Pump Station into the Highland Park Reservoir system.
In total, we will invest nearly $470 million into our Water Reliability Plan over many years.
PUBLIC HEALTH & ENVIRONMENTAL STEWARDSHIP
Since 2020, lead levels have remained well below the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) lead action level of 15 ppb. This consistency in the quality of our drinking water has been made possible, in part, by improved water treatment methods and our commitment to remove all lead from our water distribution by 2026.
In its sixth year of existence in 2022, our Community Lead Response executed a variety of targeted lead removal programs. In addition to water main replacement programs, focusing on areas with a high concentration of lead service lines, we launched the Priority Lead Line Replacement Program, a unique effort to replace lead service lines at all daycare facilities and any homes that submitted a lead test kit with elevated results.
As stewards of an essential public resource, PWSA operates with the strict requirements of the law and with high ethical and professional standards. This renewed focus on environmental compliance and ethics remains at the forefront of the decisions we make as steadfast stewards of the vital water services our region relies on each day.
STRATEGIC STORMWATER MANEGEMENT
Our mission to protect public health and the environment also informs how we manage our region’s unique stormwater challenges. Throughout last year, we completed six stormwater projects in five Pittsburgh neighborhoods – helping to protect residents, our neighborhoods, and our rivers and streams from the impacts of too much rain.
These projects use green solutions like permeable pavers, vegetation, rocky stream beds and underground storage to soak up, slow down and hold back stormwater before it enters our sewer system.
Released in December 2022, our Stormwater Strategic Plan will build upon these efforts by using climate data, previous regional studies, community input, and best practices by our peer utilities to provide recommendations that consider equity, the environment, priority sites, and water quality.
IMPROVED CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE
In recent years, PWSA has made a concerted effort to improve the experience our customers have when paying their bills, starting or stopping service, tracking water usage, and updating contact information. Our hard work in streamlining these processes culminated in the launch of a new online customer portal in the summer of 2022.
PWSA’s Operations team works around the clock to keep our essential water and sewer infrastructure in constant working order. Each day, they are in Pittsburgh’s many neighborhoods to inspect, maintain and repair water and sewer pipes and perform necessary, routine tasks that are essential for maintaining water quality and distributing safe drinking water to homes and businesses.
Water Meter Reading Rate:
Lead Help Group:
- Responded to 15,176 customer calls & 8,566 emails
- 163,121, an increase of 31,104 calls compared to 2021
Meetings Hosted & Attended:
Social Media Request Response:
- 100% Within 3 Business Days
Social Media & Newsletter:
Management Information Systems (MIS)
Average Network and System Uptime:
- 99.9 Percent of the Time
Support Requests Received:
Water Main Replaced:
- 7 miles
Public-Side Lead Service Lines Replaced:
Private-Side Lead Service Lines Replaced:
- 18.6 miles
- .25 miles
Storm Drains Replaced:
Water Meters Repaired/Replaced:
Hydrants Flushed and Inspected:
Debris Removed From Storm Drains:
- 2,233 tons
Sewer Mains Inspected:
- 4.7 miles
Water Treatment Plant
Daily Average of Finished Water Produced:
- 65 million gallons
Our cash balance continued an upward trajectory and is at its highest level in at least the last decade and, for the fourth 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 2023 – 2027 $1.8 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.
PWSA continues to responsibly invest large sums of funding into critical water, sewer, and stormwater infrastructure improvements. Our ambitious $1.8 billion capital program will, over the next several years, construct several projects to modernize our water system, add needed redundancy, and meet our mission of protecting public health and the environment. Projects benefiting from this investment include water main and lead service line replacements, sewer rehabilitation and reconstruction, storm drain replacement, and stormwater management projects.
Our strategy for longer-term capital investment is detailed in our 2023 – 2027 Capital Improvement Plan (CIP), which was approved on October 28, 2022.
CUSTOMER ASSISTANCE PROGRAMS
In 2022, we continued to expand awareness of and increase enrollment in our slate of Customer Assistance Programs. These essential programs provide financial relief for income-qualified residential customers who are having difficulty paying water, sewer, or stormwater bills.
To support this critical effort, we further expanded our PGH2O Cares team – the group of education and outreach professionals responsible for working directly with our most vulnerable customers to bolster enrollment – by welcoming three new members to the team. Together they took to the community, participating in more than 80 in-person and virtual community events in 2022 to increase enrollment in these programs. The team also placed more than 6,000 outbound calls to promote our Customer Assistance Pro-grams, an increase of more than 4,000 calls when compared to 2021.
As a result of their efforts, we increased enrollment in our Bill Discount Program to more than 6,000 households. This increase of about 1,000 households reflects the important nature of the outreach and engagement that is needed to encourage enrollment.
At PWSA, we believe that no one should have to choose between paying their water bill and other essential expenses. There are still many more people in our community who can benefit from these programs, and our PGH2O Cares team will continue their important work to increase enrollment. If you believe you could benefit from our Customer Assistance Programs, or know someone who could, please contact our PGH2O Cares team at 412-255-2457 or email@example.com.
Our Supplier Diversity Program encourages minority, women, veteran, and service-disabled veteran (MWDBE) businesses to participate in contracting opportunities.
To build awareness about these opportunities and facilitate relationships between MWDBE businesses, large contracting entities, and PWSA, we hosted an inaugural Prime Networking event to bring these groups together. Approximately 50 businesses participated and enjoyed an evening networking with PWSA staff and local contractors currently engaged with PWSA.
In 2022, we conducted business with 68 MWDBE businesses, which resulted in 21% or $58,452,377 of our Board-approved contracts being paid to MWDBE businesses. Specifically, 43.1% of this total was awarded to veteran business enterprises, 31.7% to women business enterprises, 22.7% to minority business enterprises, and 2.5% to small business enterprises.
By providing contracting opportunities for a diversity of businesses, we can help to bolster the economic vitality of our local business community and the Pittsburgh region.
PWSA is committed to a culture of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in order to build and maintain a diverse workforce and talent pipeline. Last year, our Human Resources Department launched WATERWORKS, an Employee Resource Group (ERG) designed to foster employee relationships and encourage professional development that’s centered on affirming identities, shared characteristics, experiences, and freedom of expression.
As an agency that serves Pittsburgh, we’re striving to create a workforce that represents the diversity of our communities and provides gainful employment opportunities to its residents. In 2022, we created partnerships with local organizations like the Homewood YMCA, Manchester Bidwell, and Landforce Pittsburgh to create meaningful workforce development opportunities for the individuals they serve.
BUILDING AWARENESS AND KEEPING CUSTOMERS INFORMED
PWSA prides itself on having a proactive communications program to engage customers and community stakeholders in all we do. From community events to active social media channels, and media engagement, we are working non-stop to meet our customers where they are and build awareness about our programs and services.
Throughout 2022, PWSA team members tabled at farmers markets, attended community events, and partnered with stakeholders to share information about the work happening in your neighborhoods, encourage eligible customers to enroll in our assistance programs, and to share the accomplishments we all can celebrate.
Our media partners were also instrumental in telling our story. We hosted several media events to highlight a variety of project successes so local news outlets could learn more about our work and expand our reach to a broader audience. These events generated positive news coverage throughout our local market and lead to more awareness about the larger initiatives underway that will improve water services for current and future generations of customers.
AWARDS & RECOGNITIONS
THE PITTSBURGH WATER AND SEWER AUTHORITY WAS THE RECIPIENT OF SEVERAL AWARDS AND RECOGNITIONS IN 2022
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
- 2022 AQUARIUS Recognition Program, Excellence in Public Health Protection, Lead Service Line Replacement Program
American Society of Civil Engineers Pittsburgh Section (ASCE)
- 2022 Government Civil Engineer of the Year – Director of Engineering and Construction, Barry King
- 2022 Young Government Civil Engineer of the Year – Engineering Project Manager, Ana Bennett
- 2022 Service to the People Award – Chief of Operations and Technical Support, Rick Obermeier (Retired)
- 2022 Award of Merit – Highland II Reservoir Liner and Cover Replacement project
Engineers’ Society of Western Pennsylvania (ESWP)
- 2022 Water and Wastewater Project of the Year – M-29 Outfall Improvements project
- 2022 Rehab Project of the Year, Honorable Mention – M-29 Outfall Improvements project
Water Environment Federation
- Utility of the Future Today