PennFuture Blog

Our Perspectives on the Latest Issues

How You Can Get Involved: "Our Water Campaign"

Although very much underplayed by the general public and the media, Pittsburgh is facing a drinking water crisis, with lead levels still high in many homes and water rates increasing by 28 percent in 2018.  

The “Our Water Campaign”
Comprised of Pittsburgh United, Clean Water Action, Pennsylvania Interfaith Impact Network, Sierra Club, Nine Mile Run Watershed, Hill District Consensus Group, Thomas Merton Center, One Pennsylvania, and PennFuture, the campaign is a coalition that believes safe, clean water is a vital resource for the Pittsburgh region and that the lack of investment and repair of our public water system threatens our economy and public health. 

The need for safe and healthy drinking water is too important to be left in the hands of corporations. The profit motive will always come before the needs of residents. We need solutions that treat our public water as a common good and human right for all, where residents’ health isn’t put at risk so corporations can turn a profit. Residents have made it clear that they want more control and accountability over the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority, not less. 

So, when Washington, D.C.-based Infrastructure Management Group (IMG), hired by the city to explore options to rebuild PWSA, suggested a public trust to govern the authority, we have to ask if this is the best decision for the residents of Pittsburgh.

If IMG’s recommendation was implemented, the public trust would be placed under the jurisdiction of Pennsylvania’s Public Utility Commission, and would then lease its infrastructure to a private entity and dissolve PWSA’s current board.

However, a functional PWSA that keeps the authority completely public is achievable! 

PWSA has listened to public input and has passed a plan to replace lead service lines, invest in green infrastructure, and protect low-income residents with a Customer Assistance Program. You can read the full plan here.

In addition, thanks to the recent passage of a new state law, PWSA may finally have the funding and the authority to replace private lead lines, with permission from homeowners.

What can you do?


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