criteria can be considered for wastewater systems in the region. The committee recommends the following actions toward a framework for a new regional financial approach:
Develop and implement a sewer and/or water user surcharge, as recently proposed in Maryland, to fund the next five years of planning and data gathering under CWARP or a similar program. Ideally, the charge would be in addition to wastewater and water bills throughout the Three Rivers basin or, as a minimum, in the region’s urban core (see Figure 6-1).
Initiate a flow-based repayment system for ALCOSAN and other regional wastewater treatment providers that reflects, to the extent practicable, the actual contributions of flow into sewerage systems.
Select one or more forms of regional governance that have the necessary legal authority and administrative expertise to finance capital improvements and operating and maintenance expenses of management programs. Such authorities should include the power to incur debt for capital projects, establish user charges, and collect revenues necessary to pay for all expenses except those financed by intergovernmental grants.
Continue efforts to increase regional assistance through PENNVEST and other sources of funds that can generate support for specific programs such as development of county-based management programs for on-site waste disposal and AMD control.
To the extent that assistance is not available, continuing studies are needed regarding the efficient application of current local taxes and user charges to cover the start-up efforts identified above, with the goal of creating repayment mechanisms based on an equitable regional user charge system. Ultimately the system would generate sufficient revenues to repay debt obligations that will be necessary to fund priority facilities.
Water management in southwestern Pennsylvania is highly fragmented among federal and state governments as well as 11 counties, 595 municipalities, and 492 water and sewer providers. Water planning in southwestern Pennsylvania has to be addressed on a regional scale and should be holistic rather than focused on particular goals; it should consider water quality, water supply, flood hazard mitigation, aquatic and riparian habitat protection and restoration, and recreation. In choosing an appropriate organization or set of organizations to address these concerns, the following three factors should be considered:
water resource management functions for which improvements are necessary or desirable;
the level of government or private sector enterprise to which management functions should be entrusted and to which legal authority should be delegated by the legislature; and
the geographic scale that is appropriate to achieve efficiency by exploiting economies of scale and making significant regional interdependencies internal to the planning area.
Consistent with the CWARP approach recommended in Chapter 5, changes are necessary at the following geographic scales: river basins and interstate river basins and watersheds; metropolitan region scale (multi-county areas); metropolitan urban core areas; and rural areas outside of the urban core.