PWSA Exceeds Federal Lead Levels, But They Are Getting Lower

Jul 26, 2019

Lead levels for Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority remain higher than the federal action level of 15 parts per billion. However, the latest rounds of test results revealed that a chemical additive has reduced lead in water.

Orthophosphate creates a layer inside of the system’s pipes to prevent water from coming into contact with lead, but it takes about six months to reach full effectiveness. PWSA began adding it in April, after an extended oversight bout with Pennsylvania’s Department of Environmental Protection.

Executive director Bob Weimar was hopeful levels would come in below the federal threshold thanks to the treatment, but stressed that even if they had, that’s not the goal.

“Our goal is obviously to take the lead out of the system as quickly as we can and to provide safe water each and every day to the public,” he said.

Weimar expects the agency to eradicate lead from the system within 10 years.

The lead level is not an average across the system. It represents the worst-case scenarios in PWSA’s service area. Nearly 90 percent of the 177 homes tested had lead levels below the federal standard. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says there is no safe level of lead.

PWSA will release another round of test results in December.