ShareThis Page

PWSA suspends partial water line replacement program

| Friday, June 2, 2017, 5:51 p.m.
Workers from PWSA work to repair a 12-inch Water Main on the 1300 block of Pennsylvania in Manchester, Wednesday, Feb. 15, 2017.
Andrew Russell | Tribune-Review
Workers from PWSA work to repair a 12-inch Water Main on the 1300 block of Pennsylvania in Manchester, Wednesday, Feb. 15, 2017.

The Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority announced Friday afternoon it is temporarily suspending its partial lead line replacement program out of an “abundance of caution” after potentially dangerous amounts of lead were found in water samples taken from places that received partial line replacements.

“The PWSA has followed requirements to replace lead lines, but the matter is threatening to become dangerous to our residents,” Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto said in a statement that accompanied PWSA's announcement. “We need to halt this replacement program until we have an understanding with the PADEP (Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection) on how to properly and safely address this problem.”

Citing the federal Safe Drinking Water Act, PWSA said it is required to replace 7 percent of lead service lines in its water system each year. The authority began making the replacements on May 3 and has completed the work at 81 locations.

Of those, 32 connected to a non-lead private line, meaning the entire line is essentially free of lead; but the remaining 49 resulted in the partial replacement of a lead line.

Of the 49, eight homeowners submitted water quality samples for further testing and four exceeded “the allowable lead action limit,” according to PWSA.

“We know what the problems are, and we are looking to work with every partner to fix them. We have to solve them safely, however,” Peduto said in his statement.

Partial lead line replacements can cause more lead to leech into the water, the EPA has told the Tribune-Review .

The EPA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have advocated in favor of full line replacements, which negate the risk of disturbing particles of lead that can find their way into drinking water.

“PWSA has ceased any further partial lead line replacements until our procedures can effectively be verified, validated and modified to mitigate any possible public health risk,” the authority said. “To ensure continued compliance with USEPA regulations, PWSA will continue removing public lead service lines which establish an effective full non-lead service line, but has ceased partial lead line replacements.”

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.