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PWSA authorizes one-year extension of management contract |

PWSA authorizes one-year extension of management contract

The Pittsburgh Water & Sewer Authority on Friday renewed its management agreement with Veolia Water North America for at least another year, with an option to add two six-month extensions.

Veolia will help the authority recruit an executive director, chief operating officer and a finance director, according to a statement from the authority’s board of directors and interim Executive Director James L. Good.

“Our partnership with Veolia has improved the day-to-day operations of the utility resulting in significant cost efficiencies and improved customer service,” Alex Thomson, PWSA’s board chairman, said. “Veolia has provided stable leadership to PWSA and is helping us develop a plan to prepare the utility for the difficult challenges it faces in the future. We appreciate Veolia’s continued assistance to the utility in addressing these challenges.”

The board voted to approve the contract 6-0 with one abstention by board member Margaret Lanier.

The deal reduces the amount of the authority’s payment to Veolia by 25 percent. PWSA will pay $120,000 a month for the first six months of the contract, then $100,000 a month for the second six months, said spokeswoman Melissa Rubin.

Veolia would receive $75,000 a month for the first six-month extension and $50,000 a month for the second, if needed. Veolia is eligible for 40 percent of the cost savings it generates, up to $3.5 million in 2015, and up to $400,000 for meeting “key performance indicators.”

In the past, performance indicators have included reducing customer service call wait times, lowering bill delinquency rates and equipping the authority with an automatic water meter reading system.

Beginning in 2015, customers will, for the first time, be able to access their utility accounts online to monitor water usage and sign up to receive alerts about spikes in water usage that could indicate a leak, Rubin said.

In July 2012, PWSA’s board authorized a one-year, $1.8 million contract with Veolia after going 18 months without an executive director. It renewed the agreement in July 2013 at a cost officials at the time said would be $2.43 million through December. The initial term of the new agreement runs through Dec. 31, 2015.

The authority’s previous executive director resigned in December 2010 amid questions about his handling of a controversial water line insurance program in which a private firm automatically enrolled utility customers and charged them a $5-a-month fee unless they took steps to opt out. The authority ended the program in 2011.

PWSA provides water and sewer services to more than 300,000 customers in the area, primarily in Pittsburgh.

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