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Learn about The Pittsburgh Water & Sewer Authority, including Featured News, Key Projects, The Team, and Performance Metrics.
Local, state and federal leaders gathered in Pittsburgh this month to highlight the progress of Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority’s (PWSA) lead line replacement program and applaud plans for removing lead lines from every daycare in Pittsburgh. Since PWSA established its Community Lead Response program in 2016, it has replaced 8,883 public lead service lines and 5,846 private lead service lines, representing a total of more than 52 miles of lead lines removed from Pittsburgh’s water system. As part of PWSA’s Priority Lead Service Line Replacement Project in 2022, no-cost lead service line replacement will be available for all daycare facilities in PWSA’s service area.
“We are so impressed by Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority’s leadership in lead service line removal and believe this program can truly be a model for the rest of the country,” says Mami Hara, US Water Alliance CEO. “Critical to PWSA’s success has been the significant financial support of state and federal partners. Many communities want to step up and replace their lead lines, but they need that financial support to be able to do so. We’re thrilled that billions of dollars were included in last year’s federal Bipartisan Infrastructure Legislation to address lead, so more communities ensure safe drinking water for all.”
“PWSA is proud to continue our work replacing lead service lines at no cost for some of our most at-risk populations,” says Will Pickering, PWSA CEO. “With each lead line we replace, we are reducing potential exposure to lead for those we serve. As stewards of our vital water system and infrastructure, we’re committed to protecting the health and safety of our communities by providing all of our customers with safe, high-quality drinking water.”
In addition to addressing daycares this year, PWSA is also replacing eight miles of aging water mains and hundreds of lead service lines across its water service area as part of its annual water infrastructure upgrades. PWSA is also replacing lead lines in priority neighborhoods, thanks to $17 million from the American Rescue Plan.
Funding through the Pennsylvania Infrastructure Investment Authority (PENNVEST) and other state and federal sources has been key to PWSA’s success. The Priority Lead Service Line Replacement Project is made possible by a $4.7 million dollar funding package from PENNVEST. Since 2018, PWSA has applied for and received over $152 million in PENNVEST funding, of which $19 million has been grants that do not have to be repaid.
The American Rescue Plan is funding the replacement of some 750 public lead lines in Pittsburgh, according to the Pittsburgh Water and Sewage Authority.
The money for this $17 million project comes out of the City of Pittsburgh’s pot of $355 million it was allotted from last year’s $1.9 trillion federal stimulus package.
Typically, when there’s a construction project such as lead-line replacement, the utility must take out a loan.
“This is cash in hand that we are getting from the federal government. So instead of carrying that debt, we’re able to pay cash to the contractors,” said the authority’s executive director Will Pickering. “That means we don’t have to ask ratepayers for rate increases.”
In addition to the federal funding, another $4.7 million from the state will go toward replacing another 250 lines.
The non-profit municipal utility says it is focusing efforts in residential areas with elevated lead levels and on lines that supply water to child care facilities.
Lead is a neurotoxin that impacts children’s brain development. High levels can cause irreversible damage.
“Lead can be found in many sources throughout a home. It can be found in paint and dust and soil and water. And [lead line replacement] is getting at one of those primary sources of contamination and impact to a child’s health,” said Michelle Naccarati-Chapkis, an Allegheny County Council representative and head of Women for a Healthy Environment.
Since 2016, the Pittsburgh Water and Sewage Authority reports it has replaced more than 8,800 public lead lines with those made out of copper and high-quality plastic. An additional 5,000 private water lines have also been switched out.
An estimated 7,750 public lines remain; the city aims to remove these by 2026.
**Pittsburgh, PA **- Today the Pittsburgh Water & Sewer Authority (PWSA) hosted federal, state, and local leaders to celebrate the launch of its Priority Lead Service Line Replacement Project, PWSA’s newest program to replace lead service lines throughout our communities. Through this critical and targeted project, which is planned to be completed by the end of this year, PWSA will identify and replace lead service lines at locations with elevated lead test kit results and at all daycare facilities in its water service area.
Joining PWSA’s CEO Will Pickering were Congressman Mike Doyle, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Office of Water Assistant Administrator Radhika Fox, US Water Alliance CEO Mami Hara, Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Patrick McDonnell, Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission Chairman Gladys Brown Dutrieuille, and other community leaders.
“PWSA is proud to continue our work replacing lead service lines at no cost for some of our most at-risk residents,” said PWSA CEO Will Pickering. “With each lead line we replace, we are reducing potential exposure to lead. As stewards of our vital water system and infrastructure, we're committed to protecting the health and safety of our communities by providing all of our customers with safe, high-quality drinking water,” he continued.
“EPA applauds prioritizing funding through the State Revolving Fund to get the lead out of Pittsburgh’s water quickly, equitably, and across whole neighborhoods,” said U.S. EPA Assistant Administrator for Water Radhika Fox. “Pittsburgh’s plan to remove all lead pipes in the city, including from daycares where children learn and develop, serves as a call to action to cities across the country. Through federal, state, and local partnership, we can realize President Biden’s vision of replacing every lead service line across America.”
Removing lead service lines is one of the most proactive ways to reduce lead exposure and provide Pittsburgh residents with safe, high-quality drinking water. Since the establishment of PWSA’s industry-leading Community Lead Response program in 2016, it has replaced 8,883 public lead service lines and 5,846 private lead service lines. That represents a total of more than 52 miles of lead lines removed from Pittsburgh's water system.
As part of PWSA's Priority Lead Service Line Replacement Project, no-cost lead service line replacement will be available for all daycare facilities in PWSA's service area and properties where lead levels exceed 15 parts per billion, the EPA action level. Through this program, PWSA will also work with its community partner, Women for a Healthy Environment, to identify and work to remove other potential sources of lead in a building.
The Priority Lead Service Line Replacement Project is only one of several lead line replacement efforts taking place in 2022. PWSA is replacing eight miles of aging water main and hundreds of lead service lines across its water service area as part of its annual water infrastructure upgrades. The Authority is also replacing more lead lines in priority neighborhoods thanks to $17 million from the American Rescue Plan.
Funding through PENNVEST and other state or federal sources has allowed for the continued and aggressive replacement of lead service lines. The Priority Lead Service Line Replacement Project is made possible by a $4.7 million dollar funding package from the Pennsylvania Infrastructure Investment Authority (PENNVEST). Since 2018, PWSA has applied for and received over $152 million in PENNVEST funding, of which $19 million has been grants which do not have to be repaid. These low-interest loans and grants are estimated to have saved ratepayers over $140 million.
“Working with PENNVEST to identify projects and opportunities is a great way for public water systems like PWSA to address critical infrastructure needs and ensure that the people of Pennsylvania are getting clean, safe drinking water from their taps,” said DEP Secretary Patrick McDonnell.
“We are extremely proud to celebrate the success of PWSA’s lead service line replacement program,” said Deputy Mayor Jake Pawlak. “So far they have removed 8,900 lead service lines since 2016 and are committed to removing all the lead service lines in our city. We are proud to support the next phase of this vital project with $17M in funding thanks to the American Rescue Plan Act.”
At the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority, our goal is to provide our customers with safe, reliable water services. Headwaters, our new organizational performance improvement dashboard, provides a snapshot of our progress. It tracks several metrics that we are measuring across the organization. Take a look to see how we're doing at headwaters.pgh2o.com.