Connecting the Dots: CWA… Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority

Richard RuggieriRichard Ruggieri for PA State Representative for District 13, and his two young sons enjoying the Octoraro Reservoir. Under the CWA, the Octoraro Reservoir is open to the public; this may be lost if the CWA is sold to a for-profit water company.

Current Representative for House District 13, John Lawrence, says that he is working to save the Chester Water Authority (CWA), but he let the perfect opportunity pass him by. In March, Rep. Lawrence introduced HB-2455, a COVID-19 testing bill, in the House. When this bill was taken up by the Senate, an amendment was added to protect water and sewer authorities in cities of the second class. A city of the second class is determined by its size, and only one city meets this classification in the Pennsylvania Commonwealth: Pittsburgh. Much like the CWA, the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority was under attack by water profiteers. Because of this amendment, after HB-2455 passed into law, Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority was saved.

What about the CWA?

HB-2455 was Rep. Lawrence’s bill. Why didn’t he add cities of the third class, such as the City of Chester, and additional language to save the CWA to the amendment? He had the ideal opportunity when HB-2455 came back from the PA Senate before it was voted on a final time in the PA House and passed into law. This was a COVID-related bill, one that was bipartisan in nature and already had language protecting water and sewer authorities, and Rep. Lawrence let the opportunity pass him by.

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The question residents of District 13 need to ask is: how strong is Rep. Lawrence’s support for the CWA? If he wins a sixth term in November, will he seize opportunities like HB-2455, or let them pass by again? Will he fight? His campaign contributions raise serious questions. Rep. Lawrence’s campaign finance reports in 2008, 2010, 2014, and 2018, show that he took campaign contributions from Aqua in all those election cycles. In 2014, he also took a campaign contribution from Energy Transfer, which is a partnership between Aqua and Sunoco. If Energy Transfer sounds familiar, it’s because it’s the company behind the Mariner East II pipeline, which plagues our Chester County neighbors to the north.

In this election cycle, just a few months ago, Rep. Lawrence accepted a $25,000 contribution from Mike Turzai, former Speaker of the PA House, who left the PA House for a job with a division of Essential Utilities Inc. (the new name for Aqua). Then two days after accepting the money, Rep. Lawrence announced his ratepayer referendum legislation that is vaguely written with potential loopholes that for-profit water companies can exploit. If Rep. Lawrence really wants to save the CWA, why did he accept the contribution from Turzai? How can John represent constituents who are fighting every day to save their water and open space when he’s taking huge handouts from for-profit water companies?

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It’s time for new leadership in Harrisburg. I am honored to stand with the CWA. It is my top priority to make sure our community keeps our water and our access to the Octoraro Reservoir, which is owned by the CWA. I am grateful to be endorsed by Sierra Club and Conservation Voters of PA as they also stand with the CWA. I am also proud to be endorsed by End Citizens United. It’s time to take corporations, special interests, and their money out of politics—otherwise, it’s the fox watching the hen house. As an Air Force veteran, I took an oath to my country, and as your state representative, my oath will be to defend my state and constituents, not corporations or a political party.

Richard Ruggieri is running for State Representative for District 13, learn more about him and his campaign at RuggieriPA13.com.

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District 13 encompasses Chester County: Atglen Borough, East Nottingham Township, Elk Township, Franklin Township, Highland Township, London Grove Township, Londonderry Township, Lower Oxford Township, New London Township, Oxford Borough, Penn Township, Upper Oxford Township, West Fallowfield Township, West Grove Borough, West Nottingham Township and Lancaster County: Christiana Borough and Sadsbury Township

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