PWSA approves $158 million in improvements
The Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority board of directors Friday unanimously approved a $158 million capital improvement plan for 2019 that would be funded through a $150 million bond issue.
The capital budget and bond issue are subject to approval by the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission.
Officials said the money would be used for infrastructure upgrades and repairs that have been needed for decades.
PWSA Executive Director Robert Weimar said projects include updates to the Aspinwall water plant, a new three-mile water main from the plant to the Lanpher Reservoir in Shaler, repairs to storage tanks, new main valves, water meters and other urgent needs.
“We’ve not had enough money to do all this, so oftentimes we had critical things that were left off the list,” Weimar said. “Now we’re going back to that critical list and we’re going to do those this year. Some of them date back to 2007 that they were known to be in tough condition and needed to be repaired. Our (thrust) in this next year is going to be catch up… on projects that should have been done years ago.”
Weimar said the budget includes money for sewer repairs and green infrastructure projects, designed to reduce the amount of storm water flowing into streams and rivers during heavy rainfall.
PWSA has been plagued for years with aging pipes, some dating to the 1800s, along with chronic water main breaks, inaccurate meter readings and other breakdowns that have lead to boil water orders and violations issued by the state Department of Environmental Protection.
Weimar said the improvements are designed to last from 25 to 100 years.
The authority since 2015 has ramped up spending on capital projects.
Weimar said PWSA’s spending on capital improvements totaled $20 million in 2015, $40 million in 2016, $52 million in 2017 and is on track to be $70 million this year.
“Much of the work that we’re doing now is work that should have been done five, to 10, to 20, to 30 years ago,” he said. “It’s stuff that’s no-nonsense. You have to do it, and we’re not spending money on expanding or changing the system. We’re spending money on making the system work without any failures.”
Bob Bauder is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Bob at 412-765-2312, [email protected] or via Twitter @bobbauder.