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PWSA, Veolia Extend Contract; Authority May Have New Director in Next 18 Months

Deanna Garcia
90.5 WESA

The Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority and Veolia Water have extended their partnership agreement through December 2014. PWSA started working with Veolia in the summer of 2012.

The initial contract was for at least 12 months, with an option to extend. One of the priorities for the upcoming contract term will likely be finding a permanent director.

“I think that’s the aim of the board, is at the end of the contract term that by then there would be a new, permanent executive director that’s a direct employ of the PWSA,” said interim Executive Director Jim Good.

The PWSA has been without an executive director since 2010. Good, who is with Veolia, has been at the helm since the partnership between the two entities began.

Since then, the authority has cited numerous improvements including reducing costs and finding new sources of revenue without raising user rates, and customer service improvements. Going forward, Good said officials will work on other trouble spots, such as areas where treated water is going to waste.

“We need to get a handle on how much water is being lost through leaks,” Good said. “It goes by a lot of names, unaccounted for water, non-revenue water, it’s an old system. Half the system was installed prior to 1940, and until the last few years, unfortunately, because of budget issues there hasn’t been a lot of money invested in maintaining the system.”

PWSA provides water and wastewater services to more than 300,000 consumers throughout Pittsburgh and surrounding areas. Veolia will continue to collaborate with PWSA managers and staff, and ultimately develop sustainable management and growth plans.

“I think over 18 months you’re going to start to see the hiring some folks, or the promotion of folks from within to senior management positions,” Good said. “So at the end of our contract term, PWSA will be run by PWSA employees.”

The partnership extension will cost PWSA $135,000 a month, less than the $150,000 under the current agreement. PWSA officials said Veolia, so far, has identified more than $2 million in savings and new revenue sources, and improved customer service operations, including a reduction in call wait times by 50 percent.