City Council unites to request state reviews of PWSA
Following a boil-water advisory, Pittsburgh City Council wants state authorities to investigate the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority.
February 2, 2017 4:29 PM
Christian Marini, a Pepsi employee, stocks cases of bottled water at the Giant Eagle in East Liberty on Wednesday after the boil water advisory went into effect.
A customer shops for water at Giant Eagle on Wednesday as PWSA's water restrictions were in effect.
At a conference today, Mayor Bill Peduto said he'd welcome an audit of PWSA by the attorney general or auditor general.
By Adam Smeltz / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Jolted by a boil-water advisory that affected some 100,000 Pittsburghers, City Council wants state authorities to look into the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority.
The entire nine-member council has now joined Councilwoman Theresa Kail-Smith’s request before state Auditor General Eugene DePasquale and Attorney General Josh Shapiro, her office said this afternoon.
Mrs. Kail-Smith voiced her frustration during a council meeting Wednesday, less than a day after the flush-and-boil advisory took effect.
“Honestly, a lot of us feel that we’re not getting accurate information from PWSA,” she said at the time. PWSA lifted the advisory about noon today.
In particular, council is urging Mr. DePasquale and Mr. Shapiro to look at PWSA’s outside contractors, procurement process and “all other areas under their respective jurisdiction,” Mrs. Kail-Smith’s office said in a statement. Council members also want a focus on past arrangements with Veolia North America-Northeast LLC, which had a management contract at PWSA from July 12, 2012, to Dec. 31, 2015.
Concerns “that have prompted this level of scrutiny include, but [are] not limited to, the high lead levels in the water supplied to the residents of the City of Pittsburgh and the ongoing billing issues that have plagued City of Pittsburgh residents for over two years,” according to the statement from Mrs. Kail-Smith’s office.
PWSA did not immediately comment, although Bernard Lindstrom, its interim executive director, aired an apology at a press briefing earlier in the day. There, Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto said he would welcome any audit of PWSA by Mr. DePasquale or Mr. Shapiro.
Mr. DePasquale has said his office is open to auditing PWSA. But under state rules, he said, PWSA itself would need to request the review.
Shapiro spokesman Joe Grace said policy precludes the attorney general’s office from discussing whether it’s investigating any person or agency.
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