By Amy Wadas

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Two local lawmakers plan to introduce legislation to put the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority under the oversight of the Public Utility Commission.

House Speaker Mike Turzai (R-Allegheny) and Rep. Harry Readshaw (D-Allegheny) are working on legislation now in hopes that the Public Utilities Commission will eventually oversee the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority.

“It’s a system that’s completely broke,” Turzai said.

Turzai explained why this has to happen.

“For the past two years, the [PWSA’s] operating costs and debt serviced have exceeded net income. Have exceeded their net income meaning that they’re borrowing their money to pay for their operating costs,” Turzai said.

Both Turzai and Readshaw say the PWSA system has thousands of lead service lines, which haven’t been identified or located. They also say there are system leaks and noncompliance with federal water quality mandates.

Mayor Bill Peduto issued a statement saying in part:

“The legislation would need to assure residents of Pittsburgh that the water system remains a public asset, and that PUC oversight would not be used as a mechanism to force privatization.”

“You’ve got a crisis on your hand and you’re not doing anything about it. Give me a break, privatization. That’s a non-issue,” Turzai said.

But the mayor’s chief-of-staff calls the PWSA an asset it plans to fix and has no interest in selling off.

KDKA’s Marty Griffin Reports:

“There is a significant value if we make the hard investments in the infrastructure and the people to run this authority well. That’s an asset that’s worth something to the people of the city. We’re not looking to give this up, we’re looking to preserve that value and make the investments,” Acklin said.

Acklin calls fixing it a top priority.

“we will fix this authority, failure is not an option,” he said. “Having a safe water and reliable water system is very important for a city like Pittsburgh.”

Turzai said he and Readshaw will formally introduce legislation later in the week. Then, they plan to get the legislation through the House then the Senate.

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