**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.”