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PWSA pinpoints origin of major water main break

| Thursday, Feb. 16, 2017, 12:20 p.m.

The Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority Thursday found a water main break that is draining 10,000 gallons per minute from the authority's largest reservoir, and crews worked to repair it on Parker Street in Etna.

PWSA found the break in a 60-inch, 4-mile long pipe connecting the Aspinwall water works to the Lanpher Reservoir, which is in Shaler.

The authority had been searching for the leak since Wednesday because water levels in the Lanpher and Highland Park No. 2 reservoirs began dropping significantly.

Crews were unable to immediately find the leak because it was draining into a large sewer and stream that runs into the Allegheny River.

Lanpher has a 133-million-gallon capacity and provides water to about 45,000 North Side residents.

The leak did not disrupt water supply or quality. PWSA said the repair is not expected to impact service.

PWSA is pumping water to the North Side from Highland Park. Mayor Bill Peduto said the city brought in tanks containing “tens of thousands of gallons of water” to provide residents with fresh water as a precaution. The tanks were not needed.

“The reservoir level is going back up,” Peduto said. “The quality has not been affected. The pressure has not been affected. It's only the level in the reservoir.”

PWSA has experienced multiple problems in recent weeks, including a boil water order caused by fluctuating chlorine levels in one of the main reservoirs feeding the East End. About 100,000 residents last week were forced to boil water or seek an alternative source of water for almost two days.

Pittsburgh Controller Michael Lamb on Thursday released an audit of the authority. He said auditors identified PWSA's biggest problem as a lack of consistent leadership and long-range plans for improvements.

The authority since 2014 has had four different executive directors and a fifth who was hired but withdrew after questions surfaced about his termination from a similar position in South Carolina.

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