The Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority offers programs for its low-income customers that can provide deep discounts on bills as well as assistance in paying off an accumulated balance — but few customers have taken advantage of the help.
Five years ago, the city of Flint, Mich., switched its water source from the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department to the Flint River temporarily while it constructed a pipeline to connect to the Karegnondi Water Authority. The decision, coupled with a change in corrosion control treatment, ultimately led to a state of emergency as the city faced lead contamination. Similar situations have unfolded across the country from Newark, N.J., to Pittsburgh as cities work to combat aging water infrastructure. Flint’s situation helped raise awareness of the nation’s lead contamination concerns, initiating the development of new treatment products and legislation targeting lead contamination and lead in schools.
In February 2019, Pittsburgh United, a coalition of organizations advocating for safe water, secured a legal settlement that requires PWSA to spend nearly $50 million to address high levels of lead in drinking water. WQP Managing Editor Lauren Estes asked Pittsburgh United Environmental Justice Organizer Aly Shaw about the settlement.