This month we asked our Board of Directors to approve our Capital Improvement Plan, or CIP. This comprehensive plan lays out the next five years of major construction projects. At over $1.2 billion, the CIP is a public document that illustrates the massive amount of work ahead of us.
Since 2016, our primary focus has been on removing lead service lines and reducing lead levels by improving our water treatment. Over the last three years, we have removed 7,800 public lead service lines and more than 4,900 private lead service lines. The addition of orthophosphate has proven to be an effective method to reduce lead levels – and we are now seeing the lowest lead levels in 20 years.
We realize that there is no safe level of lead and we are working towards our goal of replacing all lead service lines by 2026.
The progress we’ve made on lead issues is allowing us to turn our attention to other infrastructure needs. Our CIP focuses on the replacement of water mains, the rehabilitation of aging sewer lines, and a series of once-in-a-generation projects to renew key components of our water production and distribution systems.
These projects, which culminate with the complete restoration of the Clearwell, a large, century old water storage facility, will strengthen our water system, add needed redundancy, and ensure an uninterrupted supply of quality water. The capital projects that make up our plan include rehabilitating the Aspinwall and Bruecken Pump Stations, replacing reservoir liners and cover systems, updating electrical and backup power systems, restoring pump stations, and repairing or replacing various large diameter water mains throughout the system.
We shared information about these projects with the public during a live panel discussion that was organized as part of United for Infrastructure 2020. This national event, focusing on education and advocacy to build awareness about infrastructure needs across the country, provided an opportunity to begin a discussion about our plans to improve Pittsburgh’s water infrastructure and the benefits it provides to the city and the region.
As the Pittsburgh economy grows, we will be prepared to meet the demands as more residents invest in their homes and businesses choose to locate and grow within the city. The investments in our CIP will ensure that our customers are provided with clean, high quality, reliable water services.
Catching up on decades of neglect will undoubtedly have an impact on the rates we charge our customers. As a publicly-owned and controlled utility, every dollar we receive from our customers is invested back into your water systems. We are doing everything possible to keep our rates affordable, and we are expanding our existing assistance programs to help insulate our most vulnerable neighbors.
"We are proud to be in a position where we can now move forward with this investment. Our water infrastructure was built at the turn of the 20th century and has served us well. It is now time to rebuild our system for the next one hundred years so we can provide the quality water services that Pittsburgh expects and deserves." - PWSA Executive Director, Will Pickering