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PWSA plans to check 15K homes for lead lines this year

| Tuesday, March 20, 2018, 2:30 p.m.
Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority posts an interactive map to its website with results of curb box inspections and a schedule for upcoming lead line replacements.
Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority posts an interactive map to its website with results of curb box inspections and a schedule for upcoming lead line replacements.

The Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority plans to check 15,000 homes this year for the presence of lead service lines — three times the number it checked last year.

The authority will pay $2.8 million to Michael Baker International for the work, according to a PWSA news release.

PWSA, which has been exceeding a federal lead content threshold for drinking water since summer 2016, is required to replace at least 7 percent of its lead lines per year.

PWSA estimates it has 17,750 lead lines, meaning it's required to replace 1,341 per year.

To find out how many lead lines PWSA has and where they are, the authority began inspecting residential curb boxes — the connection that leads to the shutoff valve often found in the sidewalk.

Contracted crews use cameras to determine if the line is made of lead or copper.

The authority has also scanned more than 100,000 paper records, some that are more than 100 years old, to determine the composition of the lines, the release said.

PWSA shares the information with the homeowners in an interactive map .

The next round of curb box inspections is starting in the Perry North and Perry South neighborhoods of the North Side, the release said.

A list of the streets where the work will take place is online .

Michael Baker is one of three on-call consultants PWSA selected through a request for proposals process, said Will Pickering, PWSA spokesman.

Last year, the authority paid $500,000 to Cardno, an Australian-based engineering consultant firm with a Pittsburgh office, to perform curb box inspections at 5,000 homes, Pickering said.

However, PWSA was responsible for quality assurance, data entry, mapping and customer communications — all tasks that Michael Baker will take on in 2018, Pickering said.

The Pennsylvania Public Utilities Commission did not need to approve the contract but will begin oversight of certain PWSA activities beginning next month, Pickering said.

A consent agreement with Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection requires PWSA to have an inventory that lists the materials of all 71,000 of its residential water lines by Dec. 31, 2020, the release said.

Theresa Clift is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach her at 412-380-5669, or via Twitter @tclift.

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