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Effort set to ensure safe drinking water

Rich Cholodofsky
| Wednesday, Dec. 19, 2012, 12:02 a.m.

The Municipal Authority of Westmoreland County has agreed to step up its enforcement efforts to ensure that sewage and other materials don't contaminate the drinking water supply.

Under a consent decree approved last week by Westmoreland County Judge Anthony Marsili, the authority will begin to survey customers and enforce an internal policy that could result in water being shut off at properties that don't have working connections to ensure that water is safe.

Authority Manager Chris Kerr said on Tuesday that the agreement formalizes the authority's policy and provides a time frame to oversee whether cross-connection devices are installed and properly working on residential, commercial and industrial customer properties.

“We are first and foremost concerned about public safety, and we'll do everything we can do to protect public safety,” Kerr said. “We've never had contamination of water due to one of these devices not working.”

The cross-connection devices are required to be installed at every property to ensure that hazardous materials aren't mixed with the water supply.

A lawsuit brought last year by two executives from a New Stanton company that installs and tests cross-connection devices contends the authority did not follow state environmental laws and its internal policies in monitoring the contamination concerns.

John H. Schwartz of New Stanton and Louis Robare of Greensburg, officials with Cross Connection Control Management Inc. who filed the lawsuit, likely will benefit from the outcome of the lawsuit, their lawyer conceded on Tuesday.

Attorney David Millstein said Cross Connection Control Management sells, installs and tests devices in Westmoreland County. But public safety was the primary motivating factor in filing the lawsuit, he said.

“The plan is now to pursue other municipal authorities in other jurisdictions where they have no business,” Millstein said.

Rich Cholodofsky is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-830-6293 or rcholodofsky@tribweb.com.

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