As a publicly-owned and managed water utility, we continue to prioritize engaging with the diverse customers we serve. Our community partnerships are aimed to learn from the diverse voices within our community to ensure we deliver our life essential services equitably.
In recent years, the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority has formed advisory committees to assist us in addressing some of our most challenging problems. Representatives from a variety of sectors in our service area have come together to advise PWSA on affordability, lead in water, and stormwater management.
These issues impact many customers and if not addressed collectively, can create greater inequities. We need a collective approach to expand the conversation, bring new ideas, and increase transparency into the decisions we make. The collaboration and creativity of our advisory committees have resulted in partnerships and solutions that benefit our ratepayers and the Pittsburgh community.
In these committees, PWSA works closely with community non-profits, university partners, scientists, labor groups, environmental advocates, representatives from city, county, and state government, business associations, local foundations, and other stakeholders that bring diverse perspectives and ideas.
The Low-Income Assistance Advisory Committee (LIAAC) is one example of how the advisory groups are becoming integrated into the culture of PWSA and are assisting in developing programs that reach a vast majority of our customers. LIAAC recently launched PGH2O Cares, an education and outreach program that helps eligible customers enroll in our customer assistance programs and promotes water conservation practices. They also identify opportunities to continuously enhance our assistance programs and encourage ongoing public awareness of these programs.
The Community Lead Response Advisory Committee (CLRAC) was established to assist the PWSA lead team and provide valuable feedback on how we can best serve our customers while removing lead service lines from the water distribution system. CLRAC meets quarterly to review current Community Lead Response efforts, provide feedback to ensure the program is equitable, and connects the PWSA team with valuable community resources to help our customers.
The Stormwater Advisory Group formed in 2018 to provide guidance on how we manage and also charge for stormwater management. The advisory group, comprised of representatives from the public and private sectors, shared their diverse perspective on stormwater concerns to PWSA and provided feedback on how to equitably allocate the costs associated with necessary stormwater infrastructure improvements. They developed a series of recommendations for implementing a dedicated stormwater fee and incentive programs to fund stormwater management efforts throughout Pittsburgh.
These conversations are incredibly important. PWSA values being a strong community partner, and we want to ensure that as an organization we are always striving to serve everyone in the community and make sure everyone benefits from the great work of PWSA. We realize that there are disparities in Pittsburgh. By hearing from a variety of people, PWSA can be a better community partner.
In the coming weeks, you will hear more about PWSA’s commitment to equity and the priorities we will advance so all residents can benefit from a sustainable and inclusive water future. We developed these priorities in collaboration with local and national partner organizations. PWSA has a unique opportunity to address longstanding inequities and emerge as a stronger Pittsburgh.
“We realize that there are disparities in Pittsburgh. By hearing from a variety of people, PWSA can be a better community partner.” - Chief Executive Officer, Will Pickering