Learn about The Pittsburgh Water & Sewer Authority, including Environmental Compliance, Featured News, Key Projects, The Team, and Performance Metrics.
Please see the below information regarding Pittsburgh Water & Sewer Authority's environmental compliance.View Program Details
PWSA joins City of Pittsburgh, WPEC partners in collaboration to advance Pittsburgh's sustainability goals
Pittsburgh, PA – With an eye to the future and a more sustainable Pittsburgh, the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority (PWSA) joined the City of Pittsburgh and other Western Pennsylvania Energy Consortium (WPEC) partners to announce an agreement committing to the purchase of wind power and the use of clean energy to support the production and operations of essential public services – including the production and delivery of safe, reliable water services.
Under this agreement, which amends a 2021 agreement with NRG Energy, Inc, WPEC has committed to purchasing 61,320 MWhs of wind power annually, accounting for approximately 40% of the group's total load. PWSA holds the largest share at 30% of the total, underlining our dedication to sustainable energy practices. By committing to this portion of wind generated power, we will reduce our greenhouse gas emissions by the equivalent of removing 3,000 gasoline powered cars off the road each year.
The daily production of drinking water, moving it through filters and pumps for treatment before it reaches homes and businesses, is an energy intensive operation. In alignment with our mission to protect the environment through the delivery of safe and reliable water services, PWSA utilizes sustainable practices, like the use of clean energy, to power the infrastructure that moves water through our system.
In the coming years, as PWSA completes the series of Water Reliability Plan projects to renew century-old water infrastructure, we will achieve greater energy efficiencies as new, modern infrastructure comes online. This investment, coupled with our use of renewable energies, will create a more efficient system and in turn, greater sustainability for the daily production of water services.
This agreement underscores PWSA's mission to protect the environment and aligns with the goals outlined in the City of Pittsburgh Climate Action Plan, including achieving full carbon-neutrality by 2050 and procuring 100% renewable electricity for all purchased energy by 2030. Additionally, this agreement further safeguards the region’s energy needs by providing a long-term hedge against rising energy prices.
“We are proud to join the City of Pittsburgh and other WPEC partners to reimagine our city powered by clean, renewable energy,” said Will Pickering, CEO of the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority. “This collaboration brings us closer to our clean energy goals, while also promoting a sustainable and resilient future for our customers and the City of Pittsburgh.”
PWSA remains committed to its role as a responsible steward of the environment and will continue to collaborate with WPEC and other partners to make significant strides in reducing carbon emissions and fostering a greener future for generations to come.
A look at how our Operations crew helps fulfill this promise.
All of us here at PWSA take immense pride in delivering clean, safe drinking water to the more than 500,000 consumers we serve in the region. In a typical day we produce an average of 70 million gallons of drinkable water, but the water treatment process takes longer. From the point where water is drawn from the Allegheny River to the point where it reaches your tap, that process can take up to three days.
Rigorous water quality monitoring and testing and ongoing maintenance of our distribution system ensures the continued delivery of clean drinking water. As you can imagine, this takes every member of our PGH2O team!
Our Field Operations teams are out in our service area daily maintaining and upgrading our water infrastructure, including pipes, valves, fire hydrants, and water mains. A good example of routine field work that maintains water quality is fire hydrant flushing, something our customers have likely seen in the spring and summer. Flushing ensures that proper flow and pressure is available in our water distribution system, removes sediment, and serves as another water quality checkpoint – our Field crews check the chlorine levels of the water to ensure it’s in an appropriate range.
For more information, please view our brief explainer video.
When you see lead service line replacements in your neighborhood, it’s likely that work is being undertaken by one of our large contractor partners. While our in-house Engineering & Construction team manages this work, large contractors, who can leverage their size and equipment to perform a greater volume of work across our service area, often execute it.
PWSA’s Field Operations team also plays a crucial role here. In fact, since 2016, our Operations crews have replaced 1,558 public lead lines – that’s approximately 15% of our total replacements!
This is due to matters of efficiency. When a service line or water main leaks, PWSA’s Operations team responds to evaluate the issue and make repairs. If they find the service line to be lead, or if the leaking water main could impact a lead line during repair, they begin coordinating replacement of that line. That means not only does our team fix the leak that’s impacting customers, but they also replace the lead service line, leaving that customer, who just recently had an issue, with a lead-free service line and improved water quality.
During water meter inspections or replacements, Operations carefully inspects the private service line as it enters the home and records the pipe’s material, which is then provided to the customer and recorded in our system, helping us to plan future investments. Learn more via our new Water Quality one-pager.
We’ve accomplished a great deal so far this year, with much more on the docket for the balance of 2023. In a fast-paced world, news can be easy to miss. Below, you’ll find a compilation of some of our greatest moments so far this year. For more information beyond the accompanying summary of each headline, click the link or visit pgh2o.com.
Water quality and the ongoing removal of lead service lines.
Highlighting Our Successful 2022 Community Lead Response. We’ve made great progress to get the lead out of our drinking water system, recording some of the lowest lead levels in our history since 2020.
PWSA Celebrates 10,000 Lead Service Line Replacements with Federal, State and Local Leaders. In February, we officially replaced our 10,000th lead service line. Now, with more than half removed from our drinking water system, we’re on track to remove all lead service lines by 2026.
2022 Water Quality Report. Our most recent Water Quality Report shows a clean bill of health for drinking water quality. With a highly qualified Compliance Team, we are well-positioned to deliver on future regulatory obligations mandated by state and federal agencies and fulfill our mission to protect public health and the environment through the delivery of safe and reliable water services.
Understanding Your Water Quality. We summarized some of the important techniques our Water Quality and Lab teams use to ensure the water coming to your tap is safe and reliable.
Modernizing and funding large, century-old infrastructure improvements.
PWSA Completes First Water Reliability Plan Project. In late 2022, we completed the first phase of these once-in-a-generation projects and immediately began construction of the second phase. These improvements will strengthen our water system, add needed redundancy, and, when complete, provide PWSA’s drinking water customers with more reliable water services.
PWSA Announces $52.4 Million EPA Loan for Water Reliability Plan Projects. PWSA was the proud recipient of a more than $50 million loan as part of the EPA’s Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) to help fund these large-scale projects. We’ll also use approximately $93 million from a prior PENNVEST funding award.
Your Ratepayer Dollars Explained. As a publicly owned and operated utility, every dollar we receive from ratepayers is reinvested back into our infrastructure and the improvements we’re making to provide high-quality, reliable water, wastewater, and stormwater services. Low-interest loans from state and federal funding partners and grants that do not need to be repaid will, over time, save ratepayers millions of dollars in comparison to traditional financing.
Replacing aging infrastructure in Pittsburgh neighborhoods.
Snapshot: 2022 Year in Review. In 2022, we replaced seven miles of water main, rehabbed 18.6 miles of sewer main, and replaced 233 storm drains and 88 fire hydrants. Our rehabilitation of aging infrastructure is an investment in Pittsburgh’s neighborhoods to ensure safe, reliable water, sewer, and fire protection services for years to come.
And that’s certainly not all. We recently published a full 2022 Year in Review report, which is available on our website. We encourage you to review that comprehensive overview of our work and ongoing transformation.
At the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority, our goal is to provide our customers with safe, reliable water services. Headwaters, our new organizational performance improvement dashboard, provides a snapshot of our progress. It tracks several metrics that we are measuring across the organization. Take a look to see how we're doing at headwaters.pgh2o.com.