Pittsburgh Water Quality

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

The Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority is back in compliance for the amount of lead in its drinking water, according to results from the latest round of testing showing levels at 10 parts per billion.

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

*UPDATED: Feb. 1, 2017 at 12:20 p.m. 

Approximately 100,000 Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority customers are under a flush and boil order.

The authority said the order for the central and eastern neighborhoods is “precautionary.”  

Ricky Romero / Flickr

Kyle Bibby, a University of Pittsburgh professor of civil and environmental engineering  has been studying the microorganisms in Pittsburgh's drinking water. He's received some help in this endeavor from students at the Pittsburgh Gifted Center and the Carnegie Science Center. Professor Bibby explains what we may, or may not want to know about the microbes in our tap water.

"We like to think of water as "sterile," but really nothing is sterile, in the sense that microorganisms exist everywhere. Understanding what's there is essential to understanding why it's safe. It's also just very scientifically interesting." - Professor Kyle Bibby

Also in this hour, the once in a lifetime date Super Pi Day arrives, host Guy Raz of the TED Radio Hour stops by, and the New Girl gives a guide to traveling the States with the luck of the Irish.


Pittsburgh's Improving Water Quality

Jan 7, 2015
Joseph / Flickr

Although not as apparent today, Pittsburgh was once one of the top industrial cities in America- and one of the dirtiest.

Often described as “hell with the lid off,” Pittsburgh of old was a city of dark noons where workers had to change their white shirts during the day. Since the Steel City’s mid-century renaissance, the air quality has improved significantly.

Improving the water quality of the famed three rivers- which were often used as garbage disposal by past residents- has been a longer process.

But encouraging news came out of the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection recently, when they announced that the Monongahela River had been removed from the department’s list of Rivers with Impaired Drinking Water.

The department’s Deputy Secretary of Water Management Kelly Heffner said that though this was a step in the right direction, there is still plenty of work to be done in Western Pennsylvania.

Before the implementation of the Clean Water Act, Pittsburgh’s rivers were so polluted, they barely even had fish, according to Brady Porter, Duquesne University associate professor of biology.

“Not any for commercial fishing or recreational fishing,” Porter said. “They were dead, they [the rivers] were basically sewers where our abandoned mine water would flow orange.”

Joseph A / flickr

According to a new report from a coalition of environmental and clean water groups, including the Sierra Club and Clean Water Action, at least 20 of 28 coal fired power plants in Pennsylvania discharge toxic coal ash or wastewater. These plants have no limits on the amount of toxic metals they are allowed to dump in public waters. Kim Teplitzky of the Sierra Club is one of the many concerned citizens calling for more stringent regulation by the Environmental Protection Agency under the Clean Water Act.