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Tests show no contamination of Pittsburgh water, but boil order remains

Bob Bauder
| Wednesday, Aug. 30, 2017, 5:51 p.m.
The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection won't lift a boil water order for 18,000 residents of Pittsburgh's northern neighborhood until testing proves water in the city's Lanpher Reservoir has not been contaminated from bird droppings.
Tribune-Review
The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection won't lift a boil water order for 18,000 residents of Pittsburgh's northern neighborhood until testing proves water in the city's Lanpher Reservoir has not been contaminated from bird droppings.
Water pools on a torn cover of Pittsburgh's Lanpher Reservoir in Shaler. (Trib photo)
Tribune-Review
Water pools on a torn cover of Pittsburgh's Lanpher Reservoir in Shaler. (Trib photo)

A second round of testing of water from Pittsburgh's Lanpher reservoir turned up no signs of contamination, a spokesman for the Pittsburgh Water & Sewer Authority reported Wednesday afternoon.

The authority conducted water tests following Monday's boil water order issued by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, PWSA spokesman Will Pickering said. It takes 24 hours for the water to be analyzed. Authority officials said the boil order could be lifted by Thursday.

“Tests taken from the Lanpher service area on Monday and Tuesday have not detected the presence of any contaminants,” Pickering said.

The results will be sent to DEP, which must approve the data before lifting the order impacting 18,000 residents of the North Side, Millvale and Reserve. DEP ordered the boil advisory over fears that bird droppings might have infiltrated a breech in the reservoir cover and compromised water quality.

Pittsburgh brought in tanks containing 25,000 gallons of fresh water for residents in the affected area.

PWSA's interim executive director, Robert Weimar, said Tuesday that the authority plans to replace the cover, a job that will cost around $9 million and take 9 months.

The 133 million gallon reservoir — Pittsburgh's largest — has had its share of problems over the past year.

In February, a century-old water main from PWSA's Aspinwall water plant that feeds the reservoir ruptured in Etna, sending 10,000 gallons of water per minute into a storm drain and the Allegheny River. It took four months and $2.5 million to replace the damaged section of pipe. The reservoir was offline until repairs were completed in June.

Bob Bauder is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 412-765-2312, bbauder@tribweb.com or @bobbauder.

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