McKeesport residents not affected by boil water order
Despite utility assurances that McKeesport was not affected by Municipal Authority of Westmoreland County's boil-water advisory, confusion still was triggered there, as well as in North Versailles Township and White Oak.
MAWC robocalls to customers said the problem affected areas north of Route 30 — and did not include McKeesport, which is south of Route 30 and not served by the George R. Sweeney Water Treatment Plant in Bell Township.
However, by dawn on Friday McKeesport was listed in advisories originating in Allegheny County.
“We're a little disappointed in how the information was put out there to the residents,” Mayor Michael Cherepko said. “There were so many conflicting stories. I think so many residents were confused, business owners were calling with concerns also.”
Customers living north of Route 30 were told of a potential deficiency in the filtration barrier at the Sweeney plant, which draws 24 million gallons daily from Beaver Run.
McKeesport is covered by MAWC's McKeesport Filtration Plant, located within city limits, which draws 10 million gallons each day from the Youghiogheny River.
“McKeesport isn't affected,” MAWC spokeswoman Gina Cerilli confirmed on Friday morning. “Part of White Oak borough is, however.”
On Friday afternoon MAWC issued a long list of White Oak streets where some or all residents might be affected.
The list includes Rainbow Village Shopping Center and calls to businesses in Oak Park Mall confirmed that it, too, is on the boil-water list.
Included are Pennsylvania, Vermont and California avenues, Carmella Drive, Lincoln Way and Cool Springs, Coulter, Foster, Jacks Run, Long Run, Lower Heckman and Upper Heckman roads.
“I assume the whole of White Oak is affected,” Mayor Ina Jean Marton said before the list was issued at the White Oak Animal Safe Haven she operates. “I just went to Home Depot (in North Versailles) and got 10 cases of bottled water for our animals.”
Marton went there because Giant Eagle at Oak Park Mall was out of water. Store officials told the mayor that they would get a new supply of water by Friday night.
“We are well-stocked for water,” said a Giant Eagle staffer who declined to be identified late on Friday.
North Versailles isn't on the boil-water list, either, MAWC told township officials.
“They are advising that North Versailles Township is not affected,” according to a Nixle alert. “However, since people are still receiving the automated message, we are advising to err on the side of caution to follow the boil alert until the problem is resolved.”
In Lincoln, which never was mentioned in any reports on the problem, officials sent a Nixle alert urging residents to “bring all water to a boil and let it boil for one minute before drinking it.”
Some in McKeesport didn't take chances, either after morning drive-time reports on various media as well as from the Allegheny County Department of Emergency Services.
“After being alerted, not only by the news media, but by Allegheny County's emergency management webpage, that McKeesport water was affected, we closed the restaurant,” said Joe Osinski, operator of Benito's Eating and Drinking Place along Walnut Street, which will become Puzzlers Restaurant & Lounge on Nov. 2.
Osinski said the restaurant destroyed inventory that could have been affected by the publicized threat. Breakfast was eliminated there on Friday morning and the restaurant threw away fish and soup prepared with allegedly contaminated water.
“We took a loss in product,” Osinski said. “We took a loss in sales, and we took a loss in payroll.”
At least one North Versailles restaurant near the township border with Westmoreland County confirmed it was not affected on Thursday and continued operations.
“White Oak borough is the only Allegheny County municipality that remains under a boil drinking water advisory,” Allegheny County officials posted on Facebook around 8 a.m. They gave a toll-free phone number, 800-442-6829, for White Oak inquiries about the situation.
“MAWC had issued a boil drinking water advisory (Thursday) and then updated it,” county spokeswoman Amie Downs said. “We just provided both as a public service update.”
Downs said she could not answer a question about how McKeesport was included in the county's earlier advisory.
“I'm sorry,” Downs said. “We've only put out what we've been provided.”
The Daily News included McKeesport in a list of municipalities affected in its Friday print edition. Cherepko said he was surprised to see that.
“Hopefully, every party learns from this and maybe come up with a plan, in case something like this comes up again in the future,” the McKeesport mayor said.
Reporting elsewhere ranged from a mention of “White Oak and McKeesport” on the 8 a.m. news on CBS Radio's KDKA-1020 to McKeesport remaining on a list posted on the website of Hearst's WTAE-4 after a Friday news conference by MAWC and state Department of Environmental Protection officials in New Stanton.
Trib Total Media staff writer Jennifer R. Vertullo contributed to this story. Patrick Cloonan is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1967, or email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com 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.
- Duquesne man arrested in burglary at McKeesport deli
- Kennywood’s popular Phantom Fright Nights about to begin
- Port Vue police warn of IRS scam
- Brewster’s state Senate legislation would keep charter schools in line
- Breast cancer patient to benefit from ‘Pink Your Pasta’ fundraiser
- Brewster’s senior expo draws record crowd in McKeesport
- Elizabeth mulls building choice: renovate old or purchase new one?
- Trial ordered for alleged shooter in McKeesport row
- Constables likely to appeal conviction for assault of Munhall woman
- Munhall advised to reel in out-of-control expenses
- ReClaim McKeesport ceremony celebrates new city ambassadors