Last year, the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority completed its first-ever rate filing with the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC). The new rates provided an additional $21 million per year to spend on infrastructure improvements throughout our water system.
We are using this funding to aggressively replace lead service lines, improve our drinking water treatment, renew aging sewer lines, and design stormwater projects to reduce pollution and sewer overflows. Last year was our most productive year. We invested over $100 million on capital improvements and are poised to invest over $200 million in 2020.
Over the next few years, we will continue to modernize our water system so current and future generations of customers can count on Pittsburgh’s water supply. With this investment comes the need for additional revenue, the majority of which comes from the rates our customers pay.
In March, we will submit a multi-year rate plan to raise an additional $43.8 million in 2021 and $12.6 million in 2022. Included in this amount is a request for a Distribution System Improvement Charge (DSIC) assigned at 10 percent of the fixed monthly charges. The DSIC provides utilities with the ability to place a small surcharge on a customer’s monthly bill. The funding goes towards PUC-approved upgrades like water and sewer main replacements.
What does this mean for ratepayers? Currently, the typical residential customer using 3,000 gallons of water pays $72.49 per month. If our request is approved by the PUC for next year, this would increase to $86.31 or by $13.82 per month.
Our rate proposal also includes an expansion of our Bill Discount Program. If approved by the PUC, income-eligible households will receive a 100 percent reduction in monthly fixed charges. We’re committed to balancing the needs of our most vulnerable populations while also delivering a water system that our customers can rely on now and into the future. Learn more about the existing programs and see if you qualify at pgh2o.com/CAP.
This past year, we made tremendous progress on critical water projects. We have replaced 3,200 public lead lines, added new treatment methods to reduce exposure to lead in water, addressed more than four miles of aging sewer lines, and started construction on several stormwater projects.
And our investment will continue throughout 2020. We will initiate several projects to improve security and backup power systems at the Aspinwall Water Treatment Plant and will begin the preliminary design of an emergency bypass line for the Clearwell. We will also construct new large-volume water mains, continue the Community Lead Response Program, and build new stormwater infrastructure.
We are on the right path and must maintain the momentum that is needed to meet our customers’ expectations. It includes retrofitting and replacing a significant portion of our water distribution system that delivers drinking water to customers as well as replacing all lead service lines.
We are taking every reasonable step to provide our customers with safe and reliable services at the lowest possible rates. You can be assured that with PUC oversight there is greater transparency and accountability throughout the process. As a publicly owned utility, we never lose sight that this your water. We are proud to serve Pittsburgh with the water services it expects and deserves. For more information about our rate proposal, please visit pgh2o.com/ourwaterfuture.
“We are on the right path and must maintain the momentum that is needed to meet our customers’ expectations.” - PWSA Executive Director Robert A. Weimar