Pittsburgh, PA - Today the Pittsburgh Water & Sewer Authority (PWSA) celebrated the removal of its 10,000th lead service line. State and local officials, community leaders, and members of the Community Lead Response team gathered on Hazelwood Avenue to reflect on the seven-year initiative and view the removal of the 10,000th lead service line.
Joining PWSA’s CEO Will Pickering were Lieutenant Governor of Pennsylvania Austin Davis, Congresswoman Summer Lee, Deputy Assistant Administrator for the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Office of Water Bruno Piggot, Deputy Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Infrastructure Investment Authority (PENNVEST) Robert Boos, Vice Chairman of the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) Stephen DeFrank, Deputy Mayor of Pittsburgh Jake Pawlak, and other community leaders.
“This is a proud moment for PWSA and an accomplishment the Pittsburgh community can celebrate,” said PWSA CEO Will Pickering. “Removing 10,000 lead lines has taken years of dedicated work and support from federal, state, and local leaders. Reaching this milestone is an accomplishment we can all share and we will not stop until all lead pipes are removed from our system.”
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 10,000 public lead service lines and over 6,900 private lead service lines. That represents a total of more than 59 miles of lead lines removed from Pittsburgh's water system. To date, PWSA has invested over $100 million on the removal of lead lines throughout its water service area.
The work featured on Hazelwood Avenue today is part of PWSA’s annual water main replacement program. This work targets aging water mains and replaces any lead lines attached to those mains at no cost to the customer. The program is currently replacing approximately six miles of water mains and hundreds of lead lines through the water service area.
Funding through PENNVEST and other state or federal sources has allowed for the continued and aggressive replacement of lead service lines. 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. The project featured at today’s event was made possible by a $38 million funding package from PENNVEST.
“The PENNVEST State Revolving Fund project approvals for the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority lead line removal effort demonstrates our commitment to clean water, and strong communities to serve the people of Pennsylvania,” said Robert Boos, Deputy Executive Director for Project Management. “These projects benefit public health, the environment, and support sustainable communities as we advance our shared goal of a clean and safe environment for our families to enjoy, both now and for future generations.”
Included in some of the PENNVEST funding packages are grants allocated from President Biden's Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. In 2022, we were awarded a $6.49 million grant and in 2023 awarded a grant totaling $9.65 million. This funding, allocated to the replacement of lead service lines, will not need to be repaid since it comes in the form of grants.
“Ensuring clean, safe drinking water is a priority for EPA and we are thrilled to join the city of Pittsburgh as they celebrate the replacement of their 10,000th lead service line,” said EPA Deputy Assistant Administrator for Water Bruno Pigott. “There is no safe level of lead, and that is why the Biden-Harris Administration is prioritizing replacing lead service lines through its historic Bipartisan Infrastructure Law investment.”
“The Shapiro-Davis administration, in partnership with the federal government and local communities, is working hard to rebuild our infrastructure, while creating good-paying jobs. We’re making these investments, so we can deliver on the promise of clean water for every Pennsylvanian.”
In 2020, the City of Pittsburgh provided PWSA with a $17 million grant from the American Recovery Plan Fund to prioritize the removal of lead service lines in Pittsburgh’s neighborhoods. This provided enough funding to work at least 1,700 locations where we will first verify the material of the service line and then if lead is discovered, remove it from the drinking water system.
With this funding from the American Recovery Plan Fund, we have completed work in Elliott and Crafton Heights, projects are currently ongoing in North Oakland, South Oakland, East Allegheny, the North Shore, and East Liberty, and later this year we expect to start work in Bloomfield. As work progresses, more neighborhoods will be announced.
"I want to congratulate PWSA for reaching this tremendous milestone," said Mayor Ed Gainey. "Replacing these lead lines is about making sure that our water supply is safe for families today and for generations to come."
For more information on PWSA’s Community Lead Response, please visit lead.pgh2o.com.