Since the establishment of PWSA’s industry-leading Community Lead Response program in 2016, we’ve replaced more than 8,800 public lead service lines and 5,800 private lead service lines. This multi-year investment in our water quality has been made, in part, through state and federal funding that is estimated to have saved ratepayers more than $140 million.
National voices have cited PWSA as a model for how to prioritize and execute on these important efforts that protect our communities, public health, and the environment. In recognition of the progress made to-date, and to highlight some future program focuses, PWSA celebrated its lead line removal programs alongside local and federal government officials and community leaders on April 20 in the Highland Park neighborhood of Pittsburgh.
A key focus of this event was to highlight PWSA’s Priority Lead Service Line Replacement Project. Through this initiative, which we plan to complete by the end of 2022, the Authority will replace all lead service lines at daycare facilities and locations with an elevated lead test kit result. This $4.7 million PENNVEST-funded effort will improve water quality for some of our most at-risk populations, including young children and homeowners in our service area.
Joining PWSA’s CEO Will Pickering were Congressman Mike Doyle, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Office of Water Assistant Administrator Radhika Fox, US Water Alliance CEO Mami Hara, Pa. Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Patrick McDonnell, Pa. Public Utility Commission Chairperson Gladys Brown Dutrieuille, and other community leaders, many of whom you see pictured at left.
While lead levels across our distribution system are within compliance, thanks in part to the continued use of orthophosphate, there may still be locations in our service area that experience higher lead levels. PWSA reviews all locations where the free lead test kit results are elevated. We reach out to our customers to conduct additional testing to better understand the cause of elevated lead at their particular location. During our Priority Lead Service Line Replacement Project, we will also begin the replacement process.
Our Priority Lead Service Line Replacement Project is only one of several lead line replacement efforts currently underway.
Other programs include:
- The Water Main Replacement Program, which prioritizes upgrading aging water mains with high concentrations of lead service lines, funded by a $26 million PENNVEST package.
- Our Neighborhood Lead Line Replacement Program, which will replace all lead lines in a neighborhood, funded by a $17 million allocation from the American Rescue Plan Act.
- The Lead Service Line Reimbursement Program, whereby tenants or homeowners can proactively replace their private lead line with a private plumber and get reimbursed by PWSA.
With the passage of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, which includes increased funding for water infrastructure, we hope to continue these efforts – and more – and transform Pittsburgh’s water system to protect public health and the environment.