Authority replaces over 1,341 lead lines while avoiding harmful partial replacements
Pittsburgh, PA – Today, the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority (PWSA) will report to the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) that it has surpassed its requirement to replace 1,341 lead service lines by June 30, 2018. As part of this work, PWSA has also replaced over 400 private lead service lines at no direct cost to customers. PWSA’s Community Lead Response is demonstrating that it is possible to meet aggressive replacement requirements while also protecting public health by avoiding partial lead line replacements.
PWSA’s replacement program reached new levels of productivity this month, with five separate contractors and over a dozen work crews replacing lead lines in neighborhoods across PWSA’s drinking water service area. The $44 million ratepayer-funded replacement program launched in late March 2018 and gained momentum in June due to favorable weather conditions, additional contractor and in-house PWSA crews, and extended working hours to evening and weekends. Contractors have also employed innovative trenchless replacement methods, like lead line pulling, to minimize property and roadway disruption. The Authority will continue to rapidly replace lead lines through the end of the year.
“There is still a long way to go, but meeting this deadline shows that PWSA is clearly making progress in its lead line replacement program,” Mayor William Peduto said.
“Surpassing the lead line replacement mandate is a major milestone for the Authority and the public we serve. Our comprehensive Community Lead Response is proving that we can meet the commitments we make to our regulators, while also protecting the health of our customers,” said PWSA Executive Director Robert A. Weimar. “We look forward to continued success with our replacement program and the imminent water treatment upgrades that will reduce corrosion from lead service lines,” he continued.
“We thank the public for their patience as we refined the replacement program to ensure we’re removing lead lines from our city the right way. The Board of Directors is committed to providing the oversight and the resources to ensure PWSA is doing everything possible to reduce the risk of lead in our water,” said PWSA Board Chairman Paul Leger.
In consultation with the officials at the Allegheny County Health Department and City of Pittsburgh Mayor William Peduto, PWSA halted the lead line replacement program in June 2017. At the time, PWSA could not legally replace privately-owned lead service lines when it replaced the publicly-owned portion. Lead levels at homes were shown to increase after these partial lead line replacements. In November 2017, state law was amended to allow PWSA and other municipal water authorities to replace privately-owned lead lines. PWSA’s improved 2018 replacement program fully funds private lead line replacements at properties identified for public lead line replacement.
PWSA recommends several steps anybody can take to reduce the risk of lead in tap water:
- Test your tap water for free. Kits can be requested at pgh2o.com/leadform or by calling our Lead Help Desk at 412.255.8987.
- Search the records we have for your home at pgh2o.com/leadmap. Many of the records are from the time of original construction, but it’s useful to see if you may have a lead service line. A registered plumber can also inspect the private line entering your home.
- If you think you have a lead service line, run your tap for at least one minute before using water for cooking or drinking. You can also use water filters certified to remove lead. Coupons for filters can be found here – http://pittsburghpa.gov/safepgh2o/ZeroWater_Coupons.pdf
- Visit pgh2o.com/lead-facts or call our Lead Help Desk at 412.255.8987 to learn more about our lead line replacement programs.
- Learn about the Allegheny County Health Department’s programs to reduce lead exposure from sources other than water at achd.net/lead.