Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Pittsburgh Water Authority Consultant Releases Final Recommendations

The consultant hired by the City of Pittsburgh to make recommendations on the restructuring of the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority Monday issued its final report.
The 50-page Restructuring Assessment, written by the Infrastructure Management Group, recommends transferring oversight of the Authority to a newly-created Pittsburgh Public Infrastructure Trust, governed by a Board of Trustees, which in turn would name a Board of Directors to oversee PWSA operations.
Both bodies would be independent of city government, and would set water and sewer rates under the oversight of the Public Utilities Commission.  The Authority currently is overseen by a 7-member board.
The General Assembly gave final approval to legislation Gov. Wolf is expect to sign giving the PUC oversight of the Authority rates and operations.
In addition, the report recommends the infrastructure improvements needed by the Pittsburgh Water Authority’s system be overseen by a private partner to keep likely cost overruns from impacting Authority ratepayers.
“IMG has recommended a combination approach, one that maintains public ownership, operations, and rate-setting while selecting the most beneficial aspects of each restructuring option and forging them into a powerful synthesis, one that relies on politically-independent governance and contract driven public and private performance,” the report says.
“We believe this ‘best of the best’ approach will not only solve PWSA’s persistent organizational and performance problems durably and efficiently but also enhance Pittsburgh’s national reputation as a leader in public-service innovation.”
PWSA Interim Executive Director Robert Weimar said he has not yet reviewed IMG's latest report, but noted that he is confident that the recently-approved 2018 budget, rates and strategic plan will "give PWSA's current leadership the foundation to aggressively address decades of neglect and disinvestment."
"We will continue to provide the Mayor's Blue Ribbon Panel with detailed information about our plan to ensure that all restructuring options will be considered in their recommendation," said Weimar.
The final report now heads to Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto’s Blue Ribbon Panel of water experts for review. The panel-- working independently from PWSA and city government-- has been meeting to discuss IMG’s findings since July and is expected to provide its recommendations for restructuring the Authority to the Mayor by the end of December.
Click Here for a copy of the report.  Click Here for more background on how the report was prepared.
For more information on the Authority, visit the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority website.
(Based, in-part, on reporting by The PLS Reporter.)
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