Pittsburgh, PA — The Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority (PWSA) is dedicated to removing all lead service lines from our drinking water system. With the approval of several contracts by our Board of Directors, we are poised to invest an additional $26.1 million to continue our aggressive removal of lead service lines.
In 2022, we will continue this essential work with several targeted programs to prioritize daycare centers and other locations showing elevated lead samples throughout Pittsburgh. PWSA focuses its neighborhood-based lead line replacement program by using community-based data to prioritize the most vulnerable neighborhoods. Prioritization is based on blood lead levels in children and the concentration of at-risk populations, like children under six years old and women of child-bearing age. It also includes income levels of the neighborhood and the presence of lead service lines. We also use this prioritization model as part of the criteria in selecting our areas for water main replacements.
“Our community-based approach to lead service line replacements prioritizes our most vulnerable neighborhoods,” said Will Pickering, CEO of the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority. “By further targeting priority locations like daycare centers, we can effectively reduce the risk of childhood lead exposure.”
A significant portion of planned water main and service line replacement work for the year is being funded with assistance from state and federal programs. This includes $17 million from the American Rescue Plan, which was allocated by the City of Pittsburgh in 2021, as well as over $7.7 million in state PENNVEST funding for service line and water main replacement efforts. These funding packages help to alleviate the financial burden on ratepayers and over time will save ratepayers approximately $27.5 million.
“We’re sincerely grateful for the support we have received from our local, state, and federal partners,” said Will Pickering, PWSA’s CEO. The combination of low-interest loans and grants expedites our critical work and reduces the financial burden on our limited pool of ratepayers.”
Since June of 2016, PWSA has invested millions of dollars to replace nearly 9,000 lead service lines and counting throughout our water distribution system. Learn more about our community lead response at lead.pgh2o.com.
The Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority will kick off the following programs in 2022:
The Work Ahead in 2022
2022 Neighborhood Lead Service Line Replacement
The City of Pittsburgh approved and allotted $17 million to PWSA for the removal of lead from drinking water out of the $335 million in relief funding the City received as part of the American Rescue Plan. Funding is anticipated to replace approximately 725 lead service lines. Neighborhoods are currently being selected, with construction anticipated to begin in March 2022.
2022 Priority Lead Service Line Replacement
This program will identify and replace lead lines at daycare facilities and locations with elevated lead samples, with a $4.7 million funding package from PENNVEST. This work is anticipated to begin in March 2022.
2022 Urgent Lead Service Line Replacement
This contract dedicates resources to respond to emergency service line replacements where the private service line is found to be lead. An “emergency” replacement refers to a leaking or broken public service line. Contractor crews and our Lead Help Desk team respond quickly and efficiently to work with the customer affected and replace the line at no cost, preventing a partial service line replacement.
Small Diameter Water Main Replacement
Water main replacement efforts on Forbes and Fifth Avenue, which began in May 2021, will continue in 2022 with completion expected this spring.
Additional water main work is slated to begin in spring of 2022 to replace water mains and hundreds of lead service lines throughout the system. These programs will replace approximately 8 miles of new water main and 900 public service lines. More information can be found at pgh2o.com/2022-water-main-replacement-program.
More water main replacement work is currently under design and will be announced later in 2022.
Lead Service Line Reimbursement Program
Since October of 2020, PWSA has offered an income-based reimbursement for those who proactively work with a plumber to replace their private lead service line. By following a few easy steps, homeowners or tenants can work with a private plumber to complete private side lead service line replacements and receive a minimum of a $1,000 reimbursement and up to 100% of the costs depending on the household income. More information is found at lead.pgh2o.com/leadreimbursement.
The Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority (PWSA) is the largest combined water, sewer and stormwater authority in Pennsylvania, serving 300,000 consumers throughout the City of Pittsburgh and surrounding areas.