Pittsburgh, PA – The Pittsburgh Water & Sewer Authority (PWSA) is pleased to receive a $52.4 million loan from the federal government to go toward Water Reliability Plan investments.
This funding, part of the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act, is the first of a series of loans that will support large-scale water improvements in the service area while reducing the burden on ratepayers. PWSA will also utilize approximately $93 million from a prior funding award provided by Pennsylvania's state revolving fund, PENNVEST, to support the initial phase of these critical water infrastructure investments.
PWSA was joined today by the EPA Assistant Administrator for Water Radhika Fox, Mayor Ed Gainey, Congresswoman Summer Lee, and Representative Sara Innamorato to celebrate this investment in Pittsburgh’s drinking water system. With the Highland Park Pump Station Project as the backdrop, PWSA CEO Will Pickering kicked off the day thanking the federal government for their support and drove home the importance of these large-scale investments for Pittsburgh.
"This award is the first of its kind for the Pittsburgh Water & Sewer Authority," said PWSA CEO Will Pickering. "This investment is a great example of state and federal partnerships for the benefit of ratepayers," he said.
This work will modernize Pittsburgh’s aging water system by funding three Water Reliability Plan projects – Rising Mains 3&4 Reconstruction, the Highland Park Reservoir II Liner and Cover, and the upcoming Bruecken Pump Station Reconstruction. These projects, part of a series of projects to strengthen large components of our water pumping and distribution system, will culminate with the complete restoration of the Clearwell. This century old facility is the final step of the water treatment process and ensures water is safe to drink before entering the distribution system.
“Here in Pittsburgh, water infrastructure that is decades old threatens drinking water that is essential to healthy residents and thriving communities. EPA’s $52 million WIFIA loan combined with an investment from the state revolving fund will support critical infrastructure upgrades to help the city achieve long-term water resilience,” said EPA Assistant Administrator for Water Radhika Fox. “Under President Biden’s Investing in America agenda, EPA is strengthening water infrastructure and creating jobs through WIFIA and with an additional $50 billion under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.”
Funding projects through alternative funding methods like WIFIA and PENNVEST is a more cost-efficient method, as low interest rates save PWSA and its ratepayers over the life of the loan. PWSA has pursued hundreds of millions in PENNVEST and federal funding over the last several years, for projects like this and other smaller investments, like lead service line replacement projects and sewer rehabilitation.
“I’m proud to help deliver a $52.4M WIFIA funding award to Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority to make sure every household has clean water and to modernize the drinking water infrastructure in the city.” Said Representative Summer Lee. “A few months ago, we celebrated a significant milestone, the replacement of 10,000 lead service lines in Pittsburgh, which is a testament to accountability, action, and the acknowledgment of past wrongs. This funding represents a monumental effort in partnership across all levels of government, demonstrating our commitment to righting an injustice and ensuring clean and safe water for every single household and every one of our communities.”
Rep. Sara Innamorato echoed Congresswoman Lee's sentiments, stating that "Clean water is a fundamental human right that cannot be compromised. Together, we can ensure that Pittsburgh and Allegheny County is a place where safe and reliable drinking water is the norm, not the exception.”
Rising Mains 3&4
These large-diameter pipes carry water from the Bruecken Pump Station to the Highland II Reservoir. Extensive surveying work was completed on both pipes to determine how to rehabilitate the pipes where possible, and where portions must be replaced. Approximately 1,900 feet of Rising Main 3 will be replaced by excavating the pipe, while another approximately 3,900 feet will be rehabilitated using lining technology. Approximately 200 feet of Rising Main 4 will be replaced by excavating the pipe, while another approximately 2,500 feet will be rehabilitated through lining. This funding will be applied to active work, and retroactively applied to completed work on this project.
Highland Park Reservoir II Liner and Cover Replacement
The liner and cover of the Highland II Reservoir was replaced in 2022, along with its associated components such as baffles, rainwater removal pumps, and control panels. When the Clearwell is offline for replacement, this reservoir will serve as a temporary Clearwell. Funds will be retroactively applied to this work.
Bruecken Pump Station Replacement
The Bruecken Pump Station was built in the 1930s and serves the Highland Park Reservoir system. It is one of the few locations in the city where water is pumped, as much of the distribution system operates on gravity. PWSA will de-commission the existing pump station and build a new water pumping facility on the premises.
Work on this project will involve designing and building a new facility and associated structures to support water operations and continuous pumping of treated drinking water into the distribution system. New pump infrastructure will increase the daily capacity from 24 million gallons to approximately 85 million gallons per day. The new station will also have improved electrical gear to respond to distribution system needs and run the station more efficiently.
The old pump station structure will remain in place to house other water operation activities. A new, state-of-the-art pump station will be constructed. The project also includes the replacement of the perimeter fencing to improve overall safety and the re-organizing of materials that are stored on property. This new facility will serve PWSA for decades to come.
“We cannot have a healthy, vibrant community without safe, reliable drinking water,” said Pittsburgh Mayor Ed Gainey. “I commend PWSA, the Environmental Protection Agency, and our state partners for ensuring adequate funding for all the crucial work PWSA is setting out to accomplish in the coming years. The improvements that we make today will benefit generations to come.”
To learn more about these projects, and others in the Water Reliability Plan, visit pgh2o.com/WRP