Pittsburgh, PA—Today, the US Water Alliance and Pittsburgh leaders representing Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority, community-based organizations, and academia released An Equitable Water Future: Pittsburgh. This report outlines strategies to advance five high priority water equity priorities in Pittsburgh. The report is available online here.
An Equitable Water Future: Pittsburgh was collaboratively developed by the Pittsburgh Water Equity Taskforce, including leaders from Common Unity PGH, Neighborhood Allies, Our Water Campaign convened by Pittsburgh United, Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority, PolicyLink, University of Pittsburgh’s Center for Health Equity, the UrbanKind Institute, and Pittsburgh residents passionate about access to clean, affordable water.
Located where the Allegheny and Monongahela Rivers form the Ohio River, Pittsburgh is rich in water resources, but complex and interlocking water inequities abound. Increasing water rates to fund necessary infrastructure repairs and improvements make water more unaffordable for some. Increasing rains and the presence of lead service lines in some Pittsburgh neighborhoods impact health, safety, and quality of life. While the water sector provides good-paying jobs, they are not equally available to everyone. These water-related challenges disproportionately affect low-income people and communities of color. The economic and health ramifications of the COVID-19 pandemic, which have hit communities of color at much higher rates than white communities, have also exasperated these issues.
The Pittsburgh Water Equity Taskforce worked for two years to investigate challenges and potential solutions to systemic disparities and ways to ensure all residents benefit from a sustainable, inclusive, and just water future. This roadmap discusses recommendations in five priority areas: water quality and environmental health, sustainable stormwater management, affordability, workforce development, and water democracy. The Pittsburgh Water Equity Taskforce built these recommendations in close collaboration with diverse stakeholders from across the city and has begun the work to bring them to life.
“This roadmap and set of recommendations are incredibly important for a more equitable water future in Pittsburgh. PWSA understands the opportunity we have to be a community partner that helps everyone in Pittsburgh thrive, and we want to be a forward-looking utility that helps make Pittsburgh a more equitable place to live. I’m grateful that PWSA had a chance to collaborate with such thoughtful and invested partners from across Pittsburgh and the country,” says Will Pickering, Chief Executive Officer of Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority.
“No one can stand on the sidelines when we talk about equity. And what we’ve done is reveal how our water systems can contribute to racial equity in the region. The cross-sector partnership approach this team has taken is a model for other city departments and agencies,” says Dr. Jamil Bey, Chief Executive Officer of the UrbanKind Institute.
“It is wonderful to see another team in the Water Equity Taskforce deliver an equity roadmap for their community,” says Mami Hara, Chair of the US Water Alliance Board of Directors. “We are so proud of how the US Water Alliance’s water equity work has grown from the original group of seven cities, to a vibrant network of dozens of cities across the country. Together we can collaborate and find solutions to so many public health, environmental, and economic challenges through equitable water investment.”
This report is part of the Water Equity Taskforce, a network of cities convened by the US Water Alliance that work together to develop more equitable water policies and practices. The Taskforce includes cross-sector teams in the cities of Atlanta, Buffalo, Camden, Cleveland, Louisville, Milwaukee, and Pittsburgh.
Click here for more information on the original Water Equity Taskforce project.
Click here for more information on the recently launched Water Equity Network.