By Andy Sheehan

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Who knew that getting clean, potable water into your home could be such a mess?

The Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority is in such disarray, Mayor Bill Peduto has impaneled a blue-ribbon committee to give it major overhaul.

“Probably the biggest decision that will be made by our administration. It’s about future of our city and the water that sustains life,” Mayor Peduto said.

The mayor said the Authority finds itself close to a billion dollars in debt and is spending one in every four dollars to service that debt.

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Meanwhile infrastructure is crumbling, and about 20,000 homes in the city have lead services lines. Thousands of those households are presently drinking water with elevated levels of lead.

The mayor estimates replacing those lines at more than $400 million and that the Authority has neither the money nor the structure to accomplish that.

“We know that the organization itself is not one that will be able to sustain the needs of this city,” Mayor Peduto said.

The committee heard from four competing consultant groups vying for the job of revamping the PWSA, but county controller Chelsa Wagner said such fixes are long term and the lead issue must be addressed in the short run.

“We need to talk about now. We have a lead crisis in this city and we don’t have the luxury of waiting 20 years from now or 40 years from now,” she said.

To make matter worse, the PWSA board met Friday afternoon without an executive director and short three board members who recently resigned.

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