Pittsburgh – December 29, 2017 – State Sen. Wayne Fontana (D-Allegheny) said today that financing the repair of water and sewer laterals is in the public interest because it helps the consumer, public health and the environment, but more needs to done to help homeowners and authorities deal with the costs.
He has called on the General Assembly to act quickly to pass a measure to help fund repairs. Fontana’s call is on the heels of a recently released report of a city investigative panel that focused on reforming the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority.
“For several years, I have been proposing measures to help public authorities and homeowners deal with water and sewer issues,” Fontana said. “This is a public health issue and one that most consumers are unable to financially deal with effectively.
“There are additional ways lawmakers can help authorities control costs while addressing fiscal issues facing homeowners who must repair and replace defective private laterals.”
Fontana introduced legislation (Senate Bill 656) that passed the Senate to allow public authorities such as the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority address lead contamination. Language from Fontana’s measure was incorporated into the state’s Fiscal Code and signed into law as Act 72.
He has also been pushing another piece of legislation (Senate Bill 639) to allow municipal authorities who receive state funding to use those dollars to repair laterals on private property. The bill passed the Senate but is currently idling in the state House Environmental Committee.
Fontana has a long history of seeking solutions to issues faced by public authorities. He has called for reform and sought to help authorities and consumers deal with the high costs of repair. According to reports, the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority faces an estimated $1 billion in work – prompted by 3,500 pipe breaks since 2014.
“We can and should do more to help public authorities who face exorbitant repair costs of public lines,” Fontana said, “But we cannot forget that many laterals that are not repaired can cause health issues and need to be addressed as well.”
Fontana said his legislation to allow public authorities to use PENNVEST dollars and other state resources for private lateral repairs would simultaneously solve two problems at once.
“Authorities have trouble dealing with lateral repairs and consumers often are unable to finance the repair or replacement of faulty lines,” Fontana said. “My legislation would provide access to more resources.”
Fontana said he will fight to make his legislation a priority when the General Assembly returns to voting session in January.