Investing in Pittsburgh’s water infrastructure is an investment in people, the community, and the regional economy. Higher water quality and reduced pollution in our waterways makes this region more desirable to businesses, increases property values, and improves quality of life for everyone in the region. To put it another way, no community can thrive without clean water.
As the federal government considers the adoption of an infrastructure bill, the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority recognizes how that could alleviate the financial burden on our ratepayers by offsetting the cost of the investment we must make over the next several years.
We are currently embarking upon the largest capital investment in our history. Our capital budget of $1.2 billion will rebuild key components of our water production and distribution systems, replace lead lines, rehabilitate aging sewer pipes, and build innovative stormwater infrastructure.
These projects will improve water quality, reliability, and safety and it is the first major investment in our infrastructure since our water systems were built a century ago.
Since the majority of our funding comes from ratepayer dollars, funding from state and federal sources is necessary to reduce the onus on PWSA customers and to more quickly advance our infrastructure investment - especially during a time when these projects can no longer be delayed.
We have been fortunate, though, to offset some of this cost by using state and federal funding programs. Our Community Lead Response and small-diameter water main replacement projects are prime examples. Since 2018, we have received $160.6 million in low-interest loans or grants from the Pennsylvania Infrastructure Investment Authority (PENNVEST), which has saved ratepayers a total of $112 million.
We were also recently invited by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to apply for a Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) loan. If approved, it would provide 49% of the funding needed for the projects in our Water Reliability Plan.
Earlier this month, PWSA participated in United for Infrastructure, a national event to raise awareness about our country’s infrastructure needs. We had the opportunity to spotlight our Community Lead Response and join a national panel of water sector innovators to discuss future plans for Pittsburgh’s water infrastructure.
Within the water industry, there is tremendous momentum to encourage investment from the federal government. An infusion of federal dollars will support overdue improvement projects, reduce the need to increase our rates in the future, and prioritize the families, workers, and businesses that rely on our services each day. PWSA is part of the conversation and is doing its part to elevate awareness about the need for federal investment in Pittsburgh.
“An infusion of federal dollars will support overdue improvement projects, reduce the need to increase our rates in the future, and prioritize the families, workers, and businesses that rely on our services each day." - Chief Executive Officer, Will Pickering