Peoples Water announced a proposal on July 3, 2018, to form a true partnership with municipalities across Allegheny County. Our goal is to work together to reinvigorate our region by building a world-class, sustainable drinking water system for Pittsburgh by embracing renewable energy and creating jobs for local residents.
Peoples has been part of the fabric of this region for more than 130 years. In Pittsburgh, we have dozens of community partners, hundreds of employees and thousands of customers. We’re your neighbors, your friends, your family. We resolve to make this a true public-private partnership because this is about people. It’s about you. Your hope for equal opportunities. Your dedication to the environment. Your family and your hometown.
The safety of our customers has always been our No. 1 priority. And when it comes to the safety of our drinking water — which sustains more than 1.2 million people in Allegheny County — there’s not a minute to lose. It’s our responsibility to help our region overcome current obstacles and prepare for future challenges.
This is more than an investment in Allegheny County’s drinking water. It’s an investment in trade unions, social services, universities, workforce development, affordable housing, green spaces. It’s an investment in a future that benefits everyone.
We propose to form public-private partnerships across Allegheny County. By partnering with Peoples Water, local municipalities can maintain public ownership of drinking water pipelines and facilities while immediately benefiting from a major investment in infrastructure that will open new opportunities and help Pittsburgh grow into a world leader in water technology.
Under the new umbrella of Peoples Water, we will immediately infuse more than $1 billion into Allegheny County infrastructure to:
The Pittsburgh region’s water system is a public asset, and we want it to stay that way. That’s why the Peoples Water proposal relies on forming public-private partnerships. We’ll invest more than $1 billion in private funds, while all existing public assets will remain publicly owned. Peoples Water is not offering to purchase or privatize any assets owned by the City of Pittsburgh or Allegheny County. Our goal is to develop partnerships that will forge a new and exciting future for our region. Any municipality in Allegheny County that operates its own water system will be welcome to join the partnership.
Many people have asked about our vision for the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority. We see incredible opportunities to work alongside the PWSA, just as we see with other municipal water systems in Allegheny County. The PWSA’s current water treatment facility consumes a substantial amount of energy. By joining this partnership and switching to a facility powered by renewable energy, we can work together to dramatically reduce our region’s carbon footprint. We would then propose renewing the PWSA’s current treatment facility with a site that includes affordable housing, public parks, bike paths and green infrastructure.
The Pittsburgh region was built on and revitalized by public-private partnerships. We will use this proven model to improve the water system in our region. This is an essential part of supporting economic development and local families for generations to come.
Peoples Water will provide Allegheny County with the highest-quality water at the lowest cost by first making our drinking water safe again for everyone. Our first priority will be to remove all lead service lines on an accelerated timeline. We’ll devote more crews, more investment and more resources to fixing the problem because, when it comes to your safety, we believe those days, months and years truly matter. And we’re determined to put your well-being first.
We’ll also provide you with cleaner, better-tasting water using advanced technology and fewer chemicals for treatment. Our new membrane filtration system will now catch particles 10 percent smaller than those currently captured. These membranes will prevent parasites such as cryptosporidium and giardia from reaching your drinking water, as opposed to current treatments that require additional chemicals. We also will implement a new UV disinfection technique, further reducing the number of chemicals used for disinfection and cutting down on harmful chlorine byproducts.
In short, the water from your faucet will be as clean as bottled water.
The Peoples Water plan was created with our environment in mind. We will construct a world-class water treatment facility powered by 100 percent renewable energy (solar and hydroelectric). We’ll do this with guidance from the University of Pittsburgh’s Energy Institute and Swanson School of Engineering. This LEED Gold facility will be located in O’Hara Township, and it will be one of only five in the world using this technology, putting Pittsburgh alongside Sydney, Los Angeles, New York and Vancouver.
This new plant will process the purest and cleanest water, and will take only 18 months to construct. Switching to a 100 percent renewable plant will reduce the Pittsburgh region’s carbon footprint immediately and significantly.
Pipeline replacement and street restoration will be designed to minimize stormwater runoff. Plus, by combining our gas pipeline replacement projects with water line replacements and repairs, we’ll cut in half our emissions from construction vehicles and equipment.
Our partnership proposal includes opportunities for improved stormwater systems to reduce flooding, green roofs, bioretention basins and even permeable pavements.
We know that for people with fixed incomes, students trying to pay for school, parents trying to support their families or an elderly neighbor trying to balance medical and grocery bills, every last dollar counts. We want you to be able to make ends meet. That’s why we have committed to locking in rates for three years. We anticipate that rates will gradually decrease after that.
We maintain a fierce commitment to helping customers in need, and we’re going to bring the full force of that commitment to Peoples Water customers. We will offer more assistance programs and resources to help customers pay their bills, so they pay what they can afford instead of paying for what they consume. We’re also partnering with local organizations to ensure our plan benefits every corner of Allegheny County and all of the neighborhoods that make up the fabric of our region. These partnerships enable us to provide holistic solutions for families in need.
We’re also committed to customer service. The Peoples customer service center has an average hold time of less than two minutes, and in the past year we’ve met 99.9 percent of our customer appointment windows. Day in and day out, we work hard to make lives better. We will bring that same dedication to Peoples Water customers.
The Peoples Water plan will energize our region by creating thousands of jobs and infusing millions of dollars into the local economy. We’ll build our state-of-the-art water treatment plant without using taxpayer money, while enlisting a local workforce and local suppliers.
Our plan will inject more than $250 million into the local economy. Approximately 3,500 jobs will be created during construction of the water treatment plant and the new water pipeline system. We will use Pittsburgh-based suppliers to purchase construction materials, and all major local trade unions will be involved in the construction activities. We’ve secured an endorsement from the Pittsburgh Regional Building Trades Council, which includes 17 local labor unions.
We’re also firmly committed to hiring and training local and minority employees. One of every three hires will be from a minority community. We will forge new partnerships with minority small businesses on procurement, and we will require contractors to employ and train minority residents, including union apprenticeship programs.
We will start by working in neighborhoods that have seen less investment in the past, because we believe everyone who lives in this region deserves the same level of service. We’ll partner with community and service organizations to ensure our plan benefits everyone. We’re all in this together, and we want to share the burden and the benefits equally as a region.
In 2018 alone, Peoples is investing more than $200 million to replace old gas pipes across Allegheny County as part of a long-term modernization plan. Our ability to replace old water pipes at the same time as we’re upgrading gas pipes presents a significant opportunity for savings, cutting the total cost by more than half. We’re in the same trenches, and by working together we can minimize the inconvenience to residents, reduce our carbon footprint and maximize efficiency.
We have always been more than a utility company. For more than 130 years, we’ve worked to make our customers’ lives better and to give back to the communities we serve — the communities where we live and work every day. Building a new water system is the next step, and we are ready to take that step with you.