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Powelson Lays Out Option to Work with a Water Company

NAWC President and CEO Rob Powelson penned a letter to the editor of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that assured residents that there is always the option of having clean water and reliable water service by working with a professional water company. The Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority again put public health in jeopardy after its latest violation of the Clean Water Act and failing to test water for lead when replacing service lines. In response, Powelson highlights the benefits water companies offer communities, including a superior water quality record, greater compliance with the SDWA, operational expertise, and lower illness and injury rates among employees.

Read the full letter below.

 

Pittsburgh can have safe, reliable water and sewer systems

The 300,000 Pittsburgh residents served by the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority must be thinking: “Here we go again” with PWSA back in the headlines after a guilty plea for violating the Clean Water Act and a related cover-up over dumping sewage into the Allegheny River.

In 2019, PWSA was also in the news when the Pennsylvania attorney general filed charges for failing to test water for lead when replacing service lines, among other violations.

These are all serious issues that threaten the health and safety of residents and the environment. But Pittsburgh has options and doesn’t have to settle for the failing status quo.

Working with a professional water company is a proven way for struggling systems to get back into compliance, ensure capital investments are being made to provide safe water, and protect the health of their residents.

According to Environmental Protection Agency data, systems owned and operated by water companies have a much stronger Safe Drinking Water Act compliance record compared with systems run by local governments. Water companies in the commonwealth are over 37% less likely to have a health-based SDWA violation than their municipal counterparts. This means drinking water is safer and of higher quality when it is provided by a water company.

Having a professionally run system frees up municipalities to focus on other areas of need because they can count on the water company to make upgrades and improvements to the infrastructure.

And the benefits extend to water company employees, who have a nearly 20% lower illness and injury rate compared with municipal water system employees. In addition, water companies value protecting local jobs by retaining the existing workforce and recognizing union collective bargaining agreements.

Water service is not a compromise. Pittsburgh residents deserve to know that the water they drink is safe. They deserve to know that their waterways are not being polluted by toxic sludge. They deserve to know that the men and women running their water systems are experts in complex water infrastructure operations and maintenance.

In short, they deserve better.

Robert F. Powelson
President & CEO
National Association of Water Companies
Philadelphia

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