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PWSA will continue moratorium on winter water shutoffs for eligible customers | TribLIVE.com
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PWSA will continue moratorium on winter water shutoffs for eligible customers

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The Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority plans to continue a moratorium on water shutoffs this winter for needy customers who have not paid their bills.

PWSA Executive Director Robert Weimar said Friday the authority would also provide billing assistance for income eligible residents who do not exceed 250 percent of the federal poverty level. The cap would be $61,500 for a family of four.

Both programs are subject to approval by the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission, but Weimar said PWSA would continue while waiting for PUC approval.

“We’ve got that in the budget,” Weimar said. “It’s been proposed to the PUC, but they have to approve all this. It’s likely that they would because they’ve approved it in other programs.”

Several residents urged the PWSA board of directors Friday to continue and expand the programs. They said the authority should completely eliminate water shutoffs for low-income residents, raise the eligibility for billing assistance to 250 percent of the poverty line and create a debt forgiveness program for people who are behind in bill payments.

“I just encourage you all to take these steps and to help our community… and make sure Pittsburgh is truly the most livable city for everybody,” said Will Anderson of Homewood.

PWSA for a first time last year approved a moratorium on water shutoffs during winter and the customer assistance program.

Weimar said the authority plans to increase customer outreach to encourage more residents to participate in the programs. He said one of the biggest problems is providing assistance to renters because water bills are oftentimes sent to a landlord who is late on payments.

“We’re looking into methods that are used elsewhere in the country,” he said.

PWSA supplies water to about 300,000 people in Pittsburgh and the surrounding region.

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