Following a years-long resident-led campaign to keep Pittsburgh’s water public, Mayor Bill Peduto released a letter declaring that Pittsburgh’s water is “not for sale.”
Today, following the mayor’s letter, it was announced that a new cooperation agreement between the City and the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority (PWSA) is being introduced for consideration by City Council next week. It includes a stipulation that the system will remain under public ownership.
As you know, Pittsburgh has endured some of the worst impacts of water privatization: following a contract with private water corporation Veolia, the city is still dealing with a lead crisis and affordability concerns.
Even after Veolia’s disastrous contract, other private water corporations were vying for control of the city’s water — and Peduto was allegedly considering them. But, in response to public pressure, Peduto has announced his rejection of another water privatization deal and affirmed that water belongs to Pittsburgh residents — not to the private water industry.
“This is a victory for Pittsburgh residents and a result of a years-long campaign demanding justice, accountability and public solutions to Pittsburgh’s water crisis.
There’s not only a lesson to be learned from the human and economic toll of the mistakes that were made in Pittsburgh, but also an equally important takeaway for cities on the effectiveness of collaboration and public input. Denouncing private ownership of the PWSA and embedding strong people-first solutions in policies charts a way forward for cities that centers people — not corporate interests — in our water systems.
Now is the time for cities and the US government to prioritize people, real solutions, and direct public investment for our water infrastructure.”
-Senior Campaign Organizer Alissa Weinman