Fixing aging water systems in Pennsylvania will cost billions of dollars. A task force looking at ways to pay for those repairs will hold a hearing in Pittsburgh today. The Sustainable Water Infrastructure Task Force will make recommendations to the governor by October.
John Schombert with 3 Rivers Wet Weather, Inc. is coordinating sewer repairs in the Pittsburgh region. It's the largest public works project in the region's history. Schombert recently told the task force that governance is vital to coordinating this kind of project. The 3 Rivers Wet Weather project involves 83 municipalities and about 500 public officials.
Regardless of how the state decides to pay for sewer repairs, Schombert says residents are going to feel a lot of pain. Sewer rates have already started to rise. The Allegheny County Sanitary Authority raised rates by nine percent at the beginning of this year. Additionally, residents are responsible for a portion of the sewer system called "laterals" which link houses to the main sewer lines. If those fail, residents themselves must pay to fix them.