Allegheny County Controller Chelsa Wagner issued the following statement in response to Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto’s announcement that he will seek a private contractor to manage the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority:

“I am deeply troubled by Mayor Peduto’s announcement today that he plans to partially privatize and further outsource control of our most basic public resource: Water. I and thousands of Pittsburgh residents will not be distracted from this abdication of responsibility by smoke and mirrors.

The City continues to duck and hide in the face of our water crisis. This ducking and hiding, epitomized by today’s announcement, is an affront to Pittsburgh residents and PWSA customers, who continue to go day to day without safe water.

Mayor Peduto’s announcement today is dead wrong. Let me address why specifically:

‘Restructuring’ will not bring the leadership or accountability that has been lacking. We don’t need restructuring to recognize that we have a crisis of lead in our water, and that our government has the responsibility and the resources to fix it now.

Privatization of our public water utility–which the mayor tried to mask in today’s proposal as a public-private partnership–will result in lower health and environmental standards and increased customer rates. Just look to Coatesville in Eastern PA for a recent example of this.

There are answers that are affordable and practical, but they will take work and action. Other cities have taken the bull by the horns and stepped up and solved these problems to address safety and affordability for their ratepayers. These cities have done so by looking inward and finding the best efficiencies.

Pittsburgh does not need more studies, more excuses, or more consultants. We need clean water, and a Mayor who takes ownership, is ready to lead, and is accountable.

I’m calling on Mayor Peduto to pledge to the public that he will not privatize our water in any way, shape or form. Let’s instead get to work on finding a solution that is safe and affordable for our taxpayers and ratepayers.

I offer my assistance to Mayor Peduto, and stand ready to take meaningful, democratic action to protect the public.”