PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – It’s a project estimated at between $2 and $3 billion – and you’ll be picking up the tab.
The overhaul of the region’s water and sewer system will be tough on everyone’s budget, but especially lower income households.
And that has some people calling for help.
The massive overhaul project is designed to clean up our rivers and streams, but it could leave some households drowning in debt.
“It’s gonna be tough,” said John Harris of Garfield. “These rates are going up high and I just don’t know.”
“It’d be very difficult for me to manage, because I’m only on social security and I live by myself,” said Cecelia Jedlicka.
ALCOSAN – the Allegheny County Sanitary Authority – needs to double its treatment capacity. And in order to do that, it’s already begun implementing a series of staggering rate increases.
It saw 17 percent last year and another 11 percent increase this spring. They’ll tack on another 11 percent in 2016 and another 11 percent in 2017.
But don’t stop there. The authority anticipates double digit increases for the foreseeable future.
“Rates are going to triple, possibly quadruple,” said Jennifer Rafanan Kennedy of Clean Rivers. “It’s a huge impact on people’s budgets.”
Monday in Market Square, the organization Clean Rivers called on the authority, as well as the state and federal government, to come up with a customer assistance program to help those who can’t afford it and will need to make difficult decision in paying their water and sewer bills.
“What they might have to choose between, whether it’s medicine or water or groceries,” said Kennedy. “So it’s really important that we help vulnerable rate payers afford water.”
These sewer rate increases are tough on most any household, but especially on those of lower income or who are seniors on a fixed budget – and right now there’s now program to help them.