PWSA is pleased to accept the Association of Metropolitan Water Agencies’ (AMWA) Environmental Justice and Equity Utility Management Award for our Community Lead Response.
This inaugural award, which was accepted by PWSA Chief Executive Officer Will Pickering at the Association’s 2023 Executive Management Conference, recognizes member utilities that commit to advancing equity and justice in their communities through assessment and planning, equity in access and costs, civic involvement in decision-making, and integrative strategies.
Through our multimillion-dollar lead safety and remediation Community Lead Response program, PWSA prioritizes our most vulnerable populations as we work to replace all lead service lines in the system. While implementing optimal corrosion control is crucial to reducing lead levels across the board, the only real solution to lead in drinking water is to remove the source – dangerous lead pipes.
When the Community Lead Response program was started in 2016, there were an estimated 16,000-18,000 lead service lines throughout our water service area that would need replaced. While the construction process for lead service line replacement is straightforward, much consideration had to be paid to which lead lines would be replaced first. To answer this question, PWSA developed a prioritization model to make this determination in an equitable and standardized way.
PWSA’s overarching goal was to replace lead lines first in neighborhoods where they posed an exacerbated risk. Research has shown that lead impacts the developing brains of young children and can impact fetuses during gestation. Additionally, placing the financial burden of replacement on homeowners disproportionally impacts low-income residents.
To date, PWSA has replaced over 10,500 public and 7,300 private lead service lines, at no direct cost to the customer. To complete these replacements, PWSA has inspected the service line material at over 21,000 locations within its service area, which amounts to approximately 25% of all water connections in the system.
Our works is not done, though, as we continue towards our overall goal of replacing all lead lines in the system by 2026. To do this, we will continue to aggressively pursue state and federal funding, saving our customers money during a period of unprecedented investment in our essential water systems. As a publicly owned and operated water utility, every dollar we receive is reinvested back into our water system.
“AMWA applauds Pittsburgh Water & Sewer Authority on winning the association’s inaugural Environmental Justice and Equity Utility Management Award,” said AMWA CEO Tom Dobbins, CAE. “The authority’s comprehensive efforts to replace lead service lines in its community to protect the most vulnerable serve as a guide for its peer utilities, public health officials, regulators, and others. Congratulations on this achievement.”
For more information on the Community Lead Response, including an interactive lead inventory map, instructions for identifying a lead service line, and information on our Lead Reimbursement program, visit lead.pgh2o.com.