Hundreds of thousands of Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority customers will soon be paying more for their water.
It will start on Jan. 1 with an average of $15 more per month and continue to go up until 2020. That means that, over the three years, the average consumer will pay at at least $360 more each year.
NEW: @pgh2o Board approves major rate hikes for PWSA customers. Bills will rise 28% in 2018, 11% in 2019 and 10% in 2020. This comes as the utility must replace hundreds of millions of dollars worth of aging pipes and is dealing with crippling debt. #WPXI— Aaron Martin (@WPXIAaronMartin) November 8, 2017
The PWSA says it’s necessary to invest and rebuild the water system. But many customers aren't convinced.
“My reaction is, I can’t afford the water now,” said Katie Zickefoose of Ross Township. “I'm guessing they should've fixed the things they need to fix a long time ago.”
Channel 11 was at the board meeting and will have more details on these rate hikes, as well as comments from a citizens group campaigning to keep the utility public, on Channel 11 News starting at 5 p.m.
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The PWSA announced Wednesday morning it will raise rates 28 percent next year, another 10 percent in 2019 and 11 percent in 2020.
“It keeps going up every time we turn around and there's never been any cutbacks for what's been there,” said Bob Hebert of Millvale.
The PWSA says the money is needed to rebuild its aging infrastructure.
The new rates would deliver $75 million that would be used to rehab the Lanpher Reservoir and the treatment plant at the Highland Park Reservoir, and improve the Bruecken Pump Station.
“We believe that it's in everyone's interest to make these investments,” said Bob Weimar, interim executive director of the PWSA.
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Members of the "Our Water” campaign demonstrated at the City-County Building over a proposal to privatize the PWSA on Wednesday afternoon.
“Obviously it is not great,” said organizer Aly Shaw. “We wish they could keep rates lower, but unfortunately, with the way the system is right now, I don't think that's possible.”
To help ease the burden of the rate increase, the PWSA say says it's going to adopt a customer assistance program for financial relief.
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