The American Society of Civil Engineers featured the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority in a mini documentary highlighting Pittsburgh’s Community Lead Response during the annual 2021 Report Card for America’s Infrastructure. The 10-minute video showcases the human side of infrastructure, describing the partnerships, collaboration, investment, and ingenuity to lower lead levels throughout our drinking water service area.
In June 2020, lead levels throughout Pittsburgh fell into compliance at 5.1 parts per billion (ppb). This is approximately 10ppb below the state and federal lead action level of 15ppb and are the lowest lead levels Pittsburgh has experienced in 20 years.
The lower lead testing results demonstrate the effectiveness of adding orthophosphate to our drinking water treatment process. In addition, we are continuing to aggressively replace lead service lines, are monitoring our water treatment improvements, and are working towards our goal of replacing all lead service lines by 2026.
Since implementing our Community Lead Response in 2016, we have removed 8,319 public lead service lines and 5,391 private lead service lines at no direct cost to ratepayers. Now that lead levels comply with the federal action level, we will continue to remove lead service lines in conjunction with water main replacement projects taking place across our water service area.
PWSA has spent approximately $90 million on its lead line replacement program and is continuing this level of investment in other critical water infrastructure projects. In 2020, we invested a record $122 million on capital improvements aimed to strengthen our infrastructure and provide more reliable service to customers. This is the largest annual investment in our history and over the next five years, as we implement our 2021-2025 Capital Improvement Program (CIP), the public can expect to see this level of investment continue.
“It is a great honor to be featured during the 2021 Report Card. With all eyes on infrastructure, the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority appreciates that ASCE took the time to produce this documentary and tell our story about our Community Lead Response,” remarked Will Pickering, PWSA’s Chief Executive Officer. “While it takes deliberate planning and investment to construct these projects, our first priority is to ensure that our customers and the citizens of Pittsburgh have safe and reliable water services. The documentary is a reminder that infrastructure touches each and every one of us,” Pickering stated.