PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Our rivers have made progress, but they still have a long way to go.

“It’s a lot better but it could be improved,” said John Ragan, a kayaker from Elizabeth.

At ALCOSAN and 83 Allegheny County municipalities, they’re under orders to clean them up — a multi-billion dollar fix to the storm sewer system.

“You look at the waterways today and they appear to be pristine,” said ALCOSAN’S Arletta Scott Williams. “The fact of the matter is there’s still negative impacts from sewage discharge.”

And that’s the problem. When the heavy rains come, the combined storm sewers become overburdened and flaps open up, pouring hundreds of thousands of gallons of raw sewage into the rivers.

But what about the cost?

“We are pretty confident at this point that with our current projections, those rates will double,” Williams said.

And that’s only if the feds approve a $2 billion dollar plan to fix the sewers proposed by ALCOSAN.

What the feds prescribe could cost as much as $3.6 billion which could triple the rates.

“We do not believe it is a responsible plan with respect to what our rate payers can afford,” Williams said.

Either way rate payers are not going to get hit hard.

“We’re not politicians, we don’t have pockets full of money,” Paul Calfo, of Lawrenceville, said. “We’re mid-class people that are taking a beating over nothing.”

“I understand the need for it, I’m not exactly happy about having to pay for it,” Karen Rasmussen, of the North Side, said.

Don’t expect any money from Uncle Sam.

Said ALCOSAN Attorney Chuck Babst: “They certainly have not suggested that one of the things that they want to do is to send us a check.”

And so your rates will at least double perhaps triple and maybe go up even more – the cost of clean water and a federal government that cites problems but offers no money to fix them.

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