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Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States

Threatened with governance changes and under scrutiny for Lead and Copper Rule exceedances and high-profile infrastructure failures, PWSA was labeled a “failing utility” by many. In fact, special legislation was passed that put PWSA under the jurisdiction of the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PA PUC). Thanks to PWSA’s strong leadership and the help of the Raftelis team, things have turned around measurably. Raftelis has provided PWSA an array of financial and organizational assistance to address its challenges.

Finance and Rates

Recognizing that PWSA would need to generate significantly more revenue to hire additional staff and begin fixing a decades-long backlog of infrastructure needs, Raftelis worked with PWSA staff to prepare the utility’s first regulated water and sewer rate filing. The basis for these rate adjustments was a comprehensive rate and financial planning model based on a thorough cost of service and rate study, which yielded a comprehensive financial plan. In addition, Raftelis is assisting PWSA with the allocation of operating and capital funding costs from wastewater to stormwater and with the identification of direct stormwater-related costs. These revenue requirements are being used to develop stormwater fees to be implemented in the near future.

Organizational Improvement

Raftelis is also assisting PWSA with the identification and implementation of organizational improvements that will increase the utility’s efficiency and make it better able to meet its customer’s needs. Raftelis worked with various internal and community stakeholders, including a special Blue-Ribbon Panel formed by the City of Pittsburgh to address governance and regional cooperation between entities. The Raftelis team provided an aggressive Compliance and Organizational Plan that convinced business leaders and community officials that PWSA had a framework for success. Raftelis is now assisting PWSA to implement elements of the Compliance and Organizational Plan, including the creation of a new PWSA performance improvement office called Watermark, aligning PWSA practice with PA PUC requirements, and fixing a series of onerous legacy rules about hiring, resource sharing, and metering that limited performance. As a result, PWSA is rapidly gaining the confidence of its customers.

Performance Management and Tracking

As part of the establishment of the new performance improvement office and to aid in the implementation of PWSA’s new strategic plan, Raftelis developed a web-based dashboard to track performance metrics throughout the organization’s various departments. Raftelis assisted PWSA in developing a strategic plan with five goal areas encompassing all of the enhancements needed to ensure that PWSA is operating as efficiently and effectively as possible. These goal areas are supported by 55 key metrics that are being tracked via the performance management dashboard. Raftelis gathered requirements on the dashboard from PWSA staff, developed and demonstrated a prototype, and then fully developed and deployed the dashboard. The performance dashboard displays the metrics with reference to individual targets, and color codes them according to how close to target the current metric is. Metric observations are stored in time series and historical information can be viewed for each metric. This dashboard will help the organization to stay on track with strategic goals by visually identifying areas where improvement is needed.

 

These combined efforts have put PWSA on a path to success.