Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority customers will see their rates rise over the next four years to help pay for capital improvement to the city's antiquated infrastructure, projected to cost $150 million over the next three years.
The board of PWSA voted today to approve a graduated rate increases for 2014 through 2017. The average household customer will see rates increase about $8.29 a month over three years, from $42.03 a month to $50.32 a month. Rates will rise about $3 a month for the first year, $1.94 for the second, $1.26 for the third and 77 cents for the fourth.
Larger consumers -- like industrial customers -- will share a larger portion of the increased burden.
The additional revenue will be used to pay down the $150 million bond issue expected to be finalized by the end of this year.
The authority's ambitious capital improvement program also was unveiled today. Jim Good, the authority's executive director, said half of the city's water lines were built before World War II. The city's sewage lines are, on average, about 70 years old.
"We have a big need for capital improvement in the system, not only to maintain but to improve it," said Mr. Good."We have improvements needed at the water treatment plant ... the replacement of water lines and sewer lines."
It includes $28 million in upgrades to the city's water treatment plant and the replacement of several lines that have been rated "high risk of failure." They also include several measures to mitigate problems caused when heavy rains result in untreated sewage into the rivers -- including the installation of screens on outflows.
After three straight years of rate increases, this was the first year that the authority held the line on rates after touting a major turnaround under the tutelage of Veolia, a private management firm that was brought in to remake the troubled utility.
But Mr. Good said money for capital improvements -- from the last bond issue in 2008 -- has been exhausted. That means the authority is now focused on patching up issues as they crop up -- broken lines, for example -- rather than replacing old problematic infrastructure.
"We need to get ahead of the curve so that we won't be dealing with emergencies in the first place," he said.
Moriah Balingit: email@example.com, 412-263-2533 or on Twitter @MoriahBee. First Published October 10, 2013 8:23 PM