Pittsburgh gets delinquent bill shut-off warning from its own water authority |

Pittsburgh gets delinquent bill shut-off warning from its own water authority

Bob Bauder
Bob Bauder | Tribune-Review
A vendor working for the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority posted these delinquency shut-off notices on the front doors of the City-County Building in Downtown on Wednesday, Jan. 24, 2018.

Pittsburgh’s own water authority on Wednesday threatened to shut off service to the City-County Building — home of Pittsburgh City Council, the Office of Mayor Bill Peduto and most city departments — for failure to pay a $23,197 water bill dating to October.

City government and Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority officials described the matter as a failure to communicate.

They said a PWSA vendor erred by posting 48-hour shutoff notices Wednesday morning on the front doors of the City-County Building on Grant Street in Downtown.

Pittsburgh does not pay PWSA for water and sewer services.

“That was an oversight on our part,” PWSA spokesman Will Pickering said. “We use a vendor to do the physical posting and they weren’t notified. I can say unequivocally the water will not be shut off.”

Pittsburgh and Allegheny County share joint ownership of the building. The county had to pay the water bill through September. Pittsburgh Operations Chief Guy Costa said the city and the county last year renegotiated a decades-old joint operating contract and the city agreed to take over responsibility for water service.

He said a former city employee failed to notify PWSA of the change.

“It should have been transferred over into the city’s name late last year, but it wasn’t,” Costa said.

Pittsburgh could still be billed.

“We were provided the agreement between the city and the county related to water services this afternoon,” Pickering said. “Our legal department is reviewing the agreement now and has not yet determined how to handle the account and its balance.”

Pickering said PWSA’s automated billing system notified the vendor. He said PWSA staff should have flagged the delinquency for a large account holder like the city, adding that the authority would have preferred to talk with city officials before posting notices.

“We have some new staff working on the program,” he said. “It was a miscommunication, but we’re working to get it all squared away now, and we’re not shutting anybody off.”

Bob Bauder is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 412-765-2312 or [email protected].

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