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Elected Officials Want To Renegotiate "The Big Fix"

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- Call it "the big fix." The federal government has ordered a $3 to $5 billion overhaul of the region's antiquated sewer and water systems to stop raw sewage from spilling into our rivers and streams.

The problem is, the feds have offered no money to pay for it, and our elected officials say that's not acceptable.

"We're not going forward with a project that's going to bankrupt Allegheny County ratepayers," said Rep. Mike Doyle.

Costs at the Allegheny County sanitary plants are going up -- way up:

  • Starting this week your bill will increase by 17 percent
  • Add on another 11 percent next year
  • And tack on 11 percent more in 2016
  • Then, there will be another 11 percent increase 2017

That's just half of it. Most of the 83 municipal water authorities in the county are implementing similar increases to fix broken and decaying sewer lines.

All of that means your water and sewer bill is likely to double, even triple, in the coming years if there is no help coming from Uncle Sam.

Rep. Doyle says the region will not comply unless the federal order is extended and renegotiated.

"If the federal government's going to be a partner on this, we will cooperate; but if the federal government is not going to be a partner, we are not going to put this on the ratepayers," Rep. Doyle said.

When it rains, the sewage system gets overburdened and raw sewage spills in the rivers.

Rep. Doyle, Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald and Mayor-Elect Bill Peduto have asked the Environment Protection Agency for more time come up with so-called green solutions - like rain barrels, porous parking lots and rain gardens, and more money to pay for it.

"I want to take raw sewage out of the waterways," said Rep. Doyle. "Everybody's for that, but we need a cost effective solution to do that, and we need the federal government to be our partner."

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