Only 1 plumber currently employed by City of Pittsburgh

PITTSBURGH — Only one single person is serving as a plumber for the City of Pittsburgh.

A spokesperson for the Department of Public Works called this a “very unfortunate hiring situation,” stating that “DPW has been working for years to fill and keep plumbers on staff.”

The issue came to light after a Mount Washington resident spoke up about numerous water fountains remaining shut off within city parks.

Vivian Kowalski contacted Channel 11 after first filing reports with 311 and contacting Councilperson Bob Charland.

Weeks went by and she remained unable to use the fountains during routine walks through Grandview Park.

“They added the park tax and I don’t know if that covers it but you know, I mean, we’re paying taxes and we should have water to drink,” she said.

On Wednesday morning, Kowalski observed a DPW worker turning on the water at one location within the park. Another remains shut off. Channel 11 visited several parks in the city on Wednesday, and some fountains were on, others were not.

Apparently only one man can handle the job.

“It’s just him and he gets called for stuffed toilets in the parks and stuff like that, so he’s busy,” she said. “We need to hire plumbers for the city.”

The city spokesperson told Channel 11 that positions are posted as they’re actively looking to hire plumbers.

“Additionally, we are actively working on development of an internal training pipeline to train and promote employees from within to the plumber position as well as a training program with Pittsburgh Public Schools.”

The city has more than 200 water fountains within city-owned parks, and having only one plumber contributed to the delay of turning them on. The Department of Public Works is further tasked with turning on all of the city’s spray features, pools, and concession stands.

The spokesperson said “many” of the fountains had been turned on as of Wednesday, and the remainder should be on “soon.”

Efforts to reach Councilperson Charland were not successful on Wednesday.

Channel 11 did however get ahold of Councilman Bobby Wilson, who sent us the following statement:

“The city is currently operating with one plumber whose job not only includes filling the city pools, turning on the spray parks, water features, water fountains, and bathrooms, but also fixing any issues that arise in city-owned facilities, like rec centers. One person cannot and should not be solely responsible for all the plumbing needs within the city. We, City Council, the Mayor’s Administration, DPW, are all working our hardest to figure out how to get these facilities up and running for this summer and to prevent this from happening in the future. "

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