Pittsburgh, PA – The Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority (PWSA) will join the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) to hear public comment on our recent rate request.
On April 13, 2021, we filed a multi-year rate request with the PUC seeking an increase to current water rates, a slight decrease in wastewater conveyance rates, and a new stormwater fee. This request, if approved would result in a total rate increase of 17.1% to be recovered through an 11.7% rate increase or $22.0 million beginning in 2022 and a 5.4% rate increase or $10.2 million in 2023. Our proposal also includes additional enhancements to our customer assistance programs as well as discounts and incentives available to all customers.
If our entire request is approved as filed, the total bill for water, wastewater conveyance, and stormwater service for a typical residential customer using 3,000 gallons per month and charged the base rate for stormwater services would increase from $79.34 to $87.19 per month or by 9.89% in 2022 and increase from $87.19 to $91.05 or by 4.43% in 2023. For income-eligible residential customers enrolled in the Bill Discount Program using 3,000 gallons of water per month, the average bill would increase from $41.77 to $45.34 per month, or by 8.54% in 2022, and from $45.34 to $47.90 per month, or by 5.64% in 2023.
The rate proposal allows us to build upon our recent accomplishments, some of which include:
- Replaced over 8,500 lead service lines since 2016.
- Implementing the $312 million Water Reliability Plan – a series of once-in-a-generation projects that will modernize key components of our water production and distribution system and provide customers with more secure and reliable water services.
- Replacing aging water mains to reduce the occurrence of water main breaks and increase the reliability of water service to our customers.
- Extending the life and reliability of our sewer system by retrofitting aging sewer lines with air and water-tight linings.
- Advancing the design and construction of new stormwater mitigation projects to reduce pollution and sewer overflows.
Why is PWSA proposing a stormwater fee?
Stormwater is the number one pollutant in urban areas, and it is creating significant health and safety challenges in Pittsburgh. Rainstorms with increased intensity cause streets to flood, sewage to backup into homes, and raw sewage to overflow into our rivers and streams. Without dedicated funding to address these problems, they will only get worse.
PWSA has been focusing on improved stormwater management for several years. After deliberate analysis and input from stakeholders, the stormwater fee, if approved, would begin to address the wet weather challenges experienced in Pittsburgh. It would help to construct innovative stormwater infrastructure, advance several stormwater planning initiatives currently underway, and improve stormwater management across the city.
A stormwater fee based on impervious or hard surfaces is a more equitable way to charge for stormwater. Our rates are currently based on water usage, which does not consider the amount of runoff generated by a property. Using impervious surface as the standard unit of measure will ensure that each parcel within the city of Pittsburgh is contributing a proportional share to help address our most pressing wet weather challenges.
For more information about our stormwater planning efforts and the fee, please visit www.pgh2ostormwater.com.
Attending the Public Hearings
Members of the public are welcome to attend these hearings and provide comment for the public record. The hearings are an opportunity for customers to share their views on the Authority’s proposed rate request to the presiding PUC Administrative Law Judge, PWSA representatives, and other parties in the case.
The public input hearings will be held telephonically and will take place on the following dates and times:
• Monday, June 28, 2021 at 1:00 PM and 6:00 PM
• Tuesday, June 29, 2021 at 1:00 PM and 6:00 PM
• Wednesday, June 30, 2021 at 1:00 PM and 6:00 PM
The public hearings are part of the PUC’s process to evaluate our recent proposal and need for this revenue. They will consider testimony from the public before making a final determination on the rate change. You do not need to be an expert to testify. Any testimony, whether supporting or opposing the Authority’s request, can be helpful to the PUC’s investigation. All testimony given under oath becomes part of the official rate case record.
To testify at these hearings, you must register by no later than June 25, 2021 at noon using one of the following options:
• Contact the Office of Consumer Advocate (OCA) at 1-800-684-6560 to provide your name, telephone number, and the topic of your testimony.
• Visit PWSA’s website at www.pgh2o.com/news-events/events-meetings, choose the public input hearing and complete the registration form.
If you wish to only listen to the public input hearings, you may use the PWSA link above at any time to join or you can simply dial-in using the following call-in information:
Conference Number: +1 (312) 626-6799
Meeting ID: 897 5883 3506
As a publicly owned and managed water and sewer authority, every dollar we receive from ratepayers is reinvested back into our infrastructure and the improvements we are making to provide high quality, reliable water, wastewater, and stormwater services. For more information about our rate proposal, please visit www.pgh2o.com/ourwaterfuture.