On Jan. 23, the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority (PWSA) in Pennsylvania announced that it will create a Residential Homeowner Assistance Program (RHAP) to aid Pittsburgh homeowners facing potentially steep costs to remove stormwater connections from sanitary sewers.

This requirement was imposed on property owners by the 2004 Consent Order and Agreement between PWSA, the City of Pittsburgh, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, and the Allegheny County Health Department. The consent order also required the City of Pittsburgh to enact an ordinance mandating residential properties in sanitary sewer areas perform and pass a dye test demonstrating compliance with the requirement to disconnect prior to the property being sold. The city did this in 2006. The cost to a homeowner to meet the disconnection requirement ranges from $250 to as much as $30,000.

According to PWSA Interim Executive Director Jim Good, about 4,000 Pittsburgh homes failed the dye test. However, the PWSA Board of Directors authorized funds to administer a program that will help offset the repairs to disconnect stormwater sources, such as downspouts, from sanitary sewers.

Under PWSA’s RHAP program, grants and loans will help qualified homeowners pay for home repairs to make a property compliant.  Eligible projects may include green solutions such as rain barrels.  Dollar Energy Fund will serve as the grant and loan program administrator.

The PWSA Board of Directors approved $200,000 that will provide PWSA and Dollar Energy Fund with funding to develop and administer a grant and loan program to assist qualified homeowners. PWSA and Dollar Energy Fund will seek additional funding sources to further capitalize and support this program.