DEP And EPA Officials In Town To Evaluate PWSA Water Treatment Plant

Sep 19, 2017

Officials from state and federal regulatory agencies are in town this week touring the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority’s water treatment plant in Aspinwall.

Representatives from the state Department of Environmental Protection and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will be looking for ways to improve efficiency and protection of public health and ensure regulatory compliance.

PWSA interim executive director Bob Weimar says they’ll look at the locations of where treatment chemicals are fed into the water supply and the pH of the water as it moves through the plant.

“It’s really getting down into the nitty gritty, if you will, of the water treatment plant design and determining whether we’re getting the optimum performance that we can get from it,” Weimar said.

DEP spokesperson Lauren Fraley said in an e-mail that the agency initiated the Comprehensive Performance Evaluation in the wake of “significant deficiencies and violations at PWSA, resulting in enforcement actions and even the field orders that led to the boil water advisories earlier this year.”

Fraley said investigators will document any “additional significant deficiencies” they find during the evaluation.

The department brought in the EPA personnel because of their special expertise in such matters.

A report detailing their findings is expected in November.

The Aspinwall facility processes 70 million gallons of water a day and is the primary treatment plant for all of the system’s water.

The plant was built in the 1800s and was last overhauled in the 1960s.

“It’s at a point now where a number of the process technologies probably need to be shined up a bit,” Weimar said.

Weimar said PWSA recently updated the filters at the plant and has plans to overhaul the pre-treatment processes over the next three to five years.

The EPA did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

UPDATE: This story was updated at 3:37pm on Tuesday, September 19 to include comments from the DEP.