How the stormwater fee helps us get to a more equitable Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh’s aging sewer system was not built to handle the increasing amounts of severe rain, storms, and flooding caused by climate change. Intense rain events mean stormwater is overwhelming our water infrastructure, leading to massive flooding. With so much of the city paved over, there is nowhere for the flooded stormwater to go. When stormwater cannot be absorbed into the ground, the polluted water flows into our rivers.

We all have a responsibility to bear the burden of fixing a systemic problem like stormwater runoff. Establishing a stormwater fee based on hard surfaces is a more equitable way to fund the improvements we need to manage stormwater in Pittsburgh.

What is stormwater?
Stormwater is rain or melting snow that flows over the ground. In urban or developed areas, stormwater runs over pavement and parking lots, picking up oil and other pollutants before flowing into a nearby river or stream. In more natural areas including forests and wetlands, as well as some parks and green spaces in urban areas, stormwater can soak into the ground or be stored and filtered.
Why is stormwater a problem in Pittsburgh?
In the last several years, we’ve all seen the increased demand on our stormwater infrastructure, resulting in issues like flooding, basement backups, and more.

These problems will not go away. With increased intense rain in our region, stormwater can frequently overwhelm our water infrastructure, leading to flood and combined sewer overflow in which untreated sewage flows directly into our rivers.

Why am I paying a stormwater fee and how much do I have to pay?
The way we currently charge for stormwater is not equitable – many people pay too much compared to how much stormwater their property generates, while other properties that contribute a large amount of runoff pay very little or nothing at all. The new billing system will be based on the amount of impervious surface area – hard surfaces such as driveways, patios, parking lots, and walkways that don’t absorb water. This can range from $3 to $12 a month.

If you have questions, you can call PWSA Customer Service at 412-255-2423, press 5 or email info@pgh2o.com for questions. You can also look up your fee at tinyurl.com/stormwatercalc.

Why is this the stormwater fee a more equitable, climate resilient system?
PWSA’s stormwater fee allows us to build better, more flood-prepared neighborhoods and protects low-income residents by making customer assistance programs available.