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Ahead Of Meeting With Panel Evaluating PWSA, Peduto Says He Supports Recommendations

Liz Reid
90.5 WESA
PWSA crews work to fix a water main break on Centre Ave. in East Liberty on Dec. 18, 2017.

On Wednesday, Mayor Bill Peduto will meet with the panel he appointed to evaluate how best to restructure the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority. After nearly six months of work, that panel issued its report at the end of December.

While the mayor said he largely supports the panel’s recommendations, he said its members left out one important consideration in selecting a best course of action for PWSA.

“We have a 19th Century system and they're looking at the best ways to be able to repair it,” he said. “But they're not looking at what the 21st Century options are to replace it.”

Peduto said he wants Pittsburgh’s drinking water system to be an example to the world.

One of the mayoral panel’s central recommendations was to insulate PWSA from political influence. Peduto said he thinks he and city council will be able to endorse that.

“Yes, it's going to cost money. And yes it's going to take time. And yes it will require a restructuring of the organization,” he said. “I can assure that we will do it in a way that keeps the asset public. The water will be owned by the people of the city of Pittsburgh.”

Despite general approval of the panel’s recommendations, Peduto hasn’t committed to any one option. He said he agrees PWSA must be restructured, but he also allowed that the city owns the system and it could be operated by another institution.

Hammering out a new cooperation agreement between PWSA and the city will occur in public meetings,  which are yet to be scheduled.

Margaret J. Krauss is WESA’s senior reporter. She covers development and transportation, and has produced award-winning podcasts on housing, work, and Pittsburgh’s lesser-known history. Before joining the newsroom full time, she covered the challenges facing Pennsylvania cities as a statewide reporter, and spent another life as an assistant editor for National Geographic Kids Magazine in Washington, D.C. She can be reached at mkrauss@wesa.fm.
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