Pittsburgh Will Replace Thousands of Lead Drinking Water Pipes

April 2, 2020

The Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority (PWSA) will remove thousands of lead water pipes by 2026

The Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority (PWSA) will remove thousands of lead water pipes by 2026 in order to address high lead levels in the city's drinking water.

This is under an agreement negotiated by community groups represented by Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and the Pennsylvania Utility Law Project. 

"During this global pandemic more than ever, it's critical that PWSA provide safe drinking water to all city residents, that residents in Pittsburgh continue to have significant say over how ratepayer dollars are spent, and that we do everything we can to take care of the most vulnerable people in our communities," said Jennifer Rafanan Kennedy, executive director of Pittsburgh United.

PWSA must prioritize replacement for residents in high-risk neighborhoods and must limit the practice of replacing only part of a lead service line, according to EcoWatch.

The authority will also expand its free tap water filter program to include: low-income renters whose homes may have lead lines; homes with lead lines where PWSA replaces a water meter; and any customer whose tap water contains at least 10 parts per billion (ppb) of lead, reported EcoWatch.

According to officials, Pittsburgh's drinking water has been contaminated with lead since at least 2016. 

"The aggressive steps to get the lead out of Pittsburgh outlined in the settlement are necessary to protect the health of children and families," said NRDC attorney Pete DeMarco. "The burdens of lead-contaminated water fall most heavily on low-income families and communities of color, which is why it is so important to prioritize lead service line replacements in those neighborhoods where residents are at greatest risk."

Lead levels in communities served by PWSA have exceeded the federal action level for 5 of the last 8 testing periods, according to the NRDC.

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