Frequently Asked Questions

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The Pittsburgh Water & Sewer Authority (PWSA) is a municipal water authority serving more than 300,000 people throughout Pittsburgh and surrounding areas. PWSA is the largest combined water and sewer authority in Pennsylvania, producing an average of 70 million gallons of water daily. The 250 employees are city residents and PWSA customers with expertise in engineering, operations, maintenance, water quality, customer service, safety, green infrastructure and a number of other disciplines. • We strive to constantly improve our operations to enhance the way we do business in a safe, sustainable and customer-friendly manner. • The PWSA sewer system is composed of 1,200 miles of sewer lines, approximately 25,000 catch basins and four pump stations.

The sewer collection system is primarily a combined collection system that serves the entire City of Pittsburgh. It also serves as a conveyance system for portions of flows from 24 neighboring municipal communities. The wastewater collected by the PWSA system is conveyed to the Allegheny County Sanitary Authority (ALCOSAN) for treatment.

Mayor William Peduto named a Blue Ribbon Panel in March 2017 to advise the city on a possible restructuring of the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority. The panel of government, nonprofit, business and energy leaders was tasked with studying ways to improve and optimize Pittsburgh's publicly-owned water and sewer asset, and to advise the Peduto administration on the hiring of an advisory firm to help guide those efforts.

Infrastructure Management Group is an advisory firm specializing in the management, performance, organization and financing of public-use infrastructure facilities.  In partnership with its various sister companies, including IMG Advisory, IMG Rebel, Rebelgroup and IMG Capital, Infrastructure Management Group provides services to governments in the US and around the world through a network of offices in North America, Europe, Africa and Asia.  Its business focus include water and sewer utilities, airports, surface transportation, energy and social infrastructure.

Since its founding in 1994, IMG has helped hundreds of government infrastructure agencies dramatically improve their service processes, implement cutting edge management technologies and develop new business strategies for overcoming major financial and operational challenges. It also supports their efforts to forge successful partnerships with private investors, developers and operators to finance new facilities and improve existing ones.  IMG is typically engaged by elected officials at all levels of government, and by the governing bodies of infrastructure agencies.  The company is the prime contractor on most of its engagements, supported by a variety of well-regarded engineering, technology, legal, accounting, finance and operations firms.

For the restructuring of PWSA, IMG is supported by a Technical Team of Tetra Tech, Uberlytics and Woodward & Curran, an accounting and finance team of Grant Thornton, The Meridian Group Limited and K Bealer Consulting, a Legal Team of West Group and Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney, and a Public Outreach Team of Actual Size and Evolve EA.  The engagement is organized into two phases: Assessment, which will take about five months, and Restructuring which will take approximately nine months or more depending upon which restructuring option is selected.

Over the past decade, PWSA has experienced a wide variety of chronic operating problems and structural financial difficulties.  None has been addressed in a comprehensive fashion or with broad stakeholder support.  2017 found the utility mired in debt and lacking essential resources despite significant scheduled rate increases, with pressing system repair and replacement needs totaling in the billions of dollars.  The City, led by Mayor Peduto, decided that PWSA’s problems were so significant that a major restructuring of some kind was required. The IMG Team was selected from a large number of multi-disciplinary advisory teams and firms proposing to assist the City with the restructuring.

PWSA suffers from an aging underground water distribution and sewage collection infrastructure that is in desperate need of repair.  The organization also lacks the requisite management tools and depth of staff expertise necessary to operate the system to contemporary standards even if its infrastructure was in an acceptable state.  Each of the restructuring options being considered is designed to address these problems together and as a single bold initiative, rather than as piecemeal improvements.

The first phase of the engagement, Assessment, includes high-level investigations of the PWSA system's current condition, as well as its operations and maintenance practices.  Its accounting systems, financial condition, customer service, billing, information systems and governance protocols are also being evaluated to understand which options might offer the best solutions to the organization’s problems.  Finally, each option is being evaluated for its legal and institutional feasibility and for its potential impact on PWSA’s ratepayers.  The results of these reviews will be summarized and presented to the City, the PWSA board and the Mayor’s Blue Ribbon Panel on restructuring. A decision on the preferred option is expected to result from their deliberations.

In the second phase of the engagement, the IMG Team will assist the City with the implementation of the Preferred Option.  IMG and its Team members have significant experience in implementing the restructuring options being considered.