State audit, city investigation to probe cause of PWSA boil water advisory

PITTSBURGH — The state auditor general plans to audit the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority after a boil water advisory was issued Jan. 31 for 100,000 customers.

The PWSA board voted Tuesday to invite Pennsylvania Auditor General Eugene Pasquale to conduct reviews of the authority’s operations.

"The situation in the city is simply indefensible.  The residents of Pittsburgh deserve better,” Pasquale said in a statement released to Channel 11 News.

"By the end of this month, I will outline plans for our review."

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Also Tuesday, Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto directed the city’s Office of Municipal Investigations to begin an investigation at the authority.

With the approval of the PWSA Board, OMI will look into the causes of the irregularities in chlorine readings that led to the order, and inform city and PWSA officials on decisions regarding water testing in the future.

"This is not a fishing expedition,” Peduto said in a statement.  “We simply want to discover what went wrong and how to keep these events from happening again.”

The mayor is also calling for an audit of lead-testing kits and results sent to authority customers.

Less than half of the testing kits issued to customers in 2016 were returned for review.

Meanwhile, a disgruntled PWSA customer got his day in court Monday.

Adam Rosenberg argued in front of a judge that a $1,400 bill that he received from PWSA should be reduced to zero because of a faulty electronic meter that led to inflated bills.

PWSA claimed Rosenberg’s bills were based on accurate readings, but offered to reduce his bill to the minimum monthly charge. The judge agreed to the reduced amount of $340.

"It's a sour victory. I don't buy it. They're equipment didn't work, couldn't generate a bill. A flat rate for what? A minimum for what? Nobody's at the house,” Rosenberg said.

Regardless of the ruling, Rosenberg told Channel 11 News that he’s happy action is finally being taken against the agency.

“I'm happy that somebody's finally doing something about it. I am, but this has been going on for years,” he said.