The Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority provides service to more than 300,000 customers throughout the City of Pittsburgh and surrounding areas. We are the largest combined water and sewer authority in Pennsylvania producing an average of 70 million gallons of water daily and providing drinking water to the majority of Pittsburgh.
Ensuring the safe and reliable delivery of drinking water is our top priority. Our dedicated staff at the water treatment plant and in our lab are constantly monitoring and measuring the quality of our drinking water to ensure that it meets all state and federal drinking water requirements.
A closer look at our treatment process and water quality
Annual Drinking Water Quality Reports
We are proud to release our 2021 Consumer Confidence Report. Our drinking water customers can have confidence in the safety and security of their water and rest assured that we are providing Pittsburgh residents and businesses with the highest quality water.
To ensure your drinking water is of the safest and highest quality, PWSA diligently tests for pesticides, herbicides, and other impurities. This report provides customers with detailed explanations of the contaminants we test for and the processes we use to reduce and remove them from the water that flows into your home.
We encourage PWSA customers to read our 2021 Annual Drinking Water Quality Report in order to learn more about where their water comes from, how it’s treated, and how we continue to monitor and improve our water systems over time. If you have questions, please call Customer Service at 412-255-2423 (press 1).
Use the links below to review our most current and past Annual Drinking Water Quality Reports:
Water Quality FAQ
To drive a greater understanding of our water quality and treatment work, we compiled these responses to Frequently Asked Questions from our customers regarding water quality and treatment.
Water Treatment Process
The Allegheny River is the source of our drinking water. Once we draw water from the river, it processes through the Water Treatment Plant before arriving at your tap as drinking water. We produce approximately 65 - 75 million gallons of water every day, and it can take up to three days for the water to complete the treatment process.
Once treatment is finished, the water enters the distribution system. Through a complex network, water is pumped to reservoirs and tanks that store treated drinking water. As it leaves these storage facilities, gravity creates pressure to push water through miles of pipes to your home or business.
Steps of the water treatment process
Coagulation: (Ferric Chloride, Potassium Permanganate, Carbon, Catatonic Polymer) These chemicals produce a reaction that allows the particles from the river to stick together, making them easier to remove.
Sedimentation: During this step, additional time is provided for particles to form and settle out of the water.
Filtration: A filter consisting of anthracite coal and sand allow water to pass through at a slow rate to remove any remaining particles.
Disinfection: (Sodium Hypochlorite) This chemical is added after filtration in a storage tank, known as the Clearwell, to ensure that the disinfectant has enough contact with the water to remove microbial particles.
Corrosion Control: In April of 2019, we began using orthophosphate to reduce lead levels in tap water. A year-long study found orthophosphate to be more effective at reducing corrosion than our previous treatment method using soda ash and lime. For more information about the use of orthophosphate in our drinking water, please visit www.lead.pgh2o.com.
Fluoride: (Hydrofluosilicic Acid) We add fluoride to our drinking water at the level recommended by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
Tour Our Water Treatment Plant
Due to COVID-19, we are not currently offering tours of the Aspinwall Water Treatment Plant. We apologize for the inconvenience and are looking forward to offering them again as soon as possible.
In April of 2019, we began using orthophosphate to reduce lead levels in tap water.
Orthophosphate is a food-grade additive that forms a protective layer inside of lead service lines, creating a barrier between the lead pipes and the water flowing through them. It is approved by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and used in water systems across the world, including sections of the City of Pittsburgh served by Pennsylvania American Water Company.
A year-long study found orthophosphate to be more effective at reducing corrosion than our previous treatment method using soda ash and lime. The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PA DEP) agreed with the study’s findings and approved corrosion control upgrade to orthophosphate.
We built four new facilities to add orthophosphate to the water distribution system after it leaves the Water Treatment Plant. The longer orthophosphate is present in the drinking water system; it becomes more effective at reducing lead levels. Early testing results indicate that our addition of orthophosphate is an effective method to reduce lead levels.
For more information about the use of orthophosphate in our drinking water, please visit www.lead.pgh2o.com.
Lead Test Results
We conduct compliance testing for lead using the methodology prescribed by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection and Environmental Protection Agency guidelines. Samples are collected from worst-case scenario homes that were verified to have lead service lines or plumbing. Please visit lead.pgh2o.com to review lead test results dating back to 2004.
Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS)
To stay ahead of potential risks and future regulatory requirements, we are currently monitoring per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). They are an unregulated contaminant that the Environmental Protection Agency notes may present a cancer risk. Recent testing has not shown quantifiable levels of PFAS.
Use the links below to review our most current and past test results for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances.
Visit our Water page to learn about our drinking water system and the improvements we are making to ensure the delivery of safe, reliable water for future generations.