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Pittsburgh's history of lead in our water, paint, and soil continues to have enormous repercussions for the area's public health. Hidden Poison is a series on lead problems and solutions, reported by public media partners 90.5 WESA News, Allegheny Front, PublicSource, and Keystone Crossroads. Read more at our website:

City To Work With Property Owners To Replace Lead Water Lines

Sarah Kovash
90.5 WESA
New measures passed by Council will clear the way for the city to work with homeowners in replacing private lead lines.

Pittsburgh City Council unanimously passed two measures Tuesday to clear the pipeline for removing and replacing the city’s lead water service lines.

The first measure allows the city to work with property owners to replace lead service lines on private property. The second requires property sellers to test for lead pipes and disclose those findings to the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority.

Council members clarified that the city cannot require landlords or property sellers to disclose the results of lead testing to their tenants. However, the city can require the results of testing be reported to PWSA.

PWSA will add this homeowner-reported data to existing lead testing data and share it on its website. Councilwoman Deb Gross spoke in support of the bill during Tuesday's meeting, saying that it’s a step toward a lead-free Pittsburgh.

“[The bills] help us find where the lead lines are by enlisting citizen participation, which is fantastic,” Gross said. “And also asserts our right to go onto private property to replace those lines.”

Previously, the city only had the authority to replace lines on public property and individual property owners would electively replace their lead lines. The bill passed today allows the city to work with PWSA and property owners to replace entire lead service lines.

“These bills will allow us to have full, street to foundation lead free,” Gross said.

The city halted its partial replacement program in June after residents noticed heightened lead levels when only the public side of a water line was replaced.  

The bill was met with lukewarm reception when passed earlier this month, and the Peduto administration has not yet established a plan on how replacements of private-side lead lines would be paid for.

The mayor’s office said there is no timeline on when these replacements will begin, and that the next step in the process is working out details with PWSA.