Water quality

Skitterphoto / Pixabay

A new policy to help low-income residents pay their water bills during the winter months is in the works, Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority board members said Thursday. 

The PWSA's recently formed affordability committee will help develop the fair payment policy.

The board considered a complete moratorium last month on water shutoffs between December and March for low-income residents who can't pay their bills but also rely on radiators heat their homes.

An-Li Herring / 90.5 WESA

In seven locations throughout the city, fire hydrants are continually spewing water --- more than 15 million gallons of water.

Jake Savitz / 90.5 WESA

While federal and state environmental regulators are in town this week examining the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority’s treatment processes, a city-hired consultant is working on its final recommendations to completely restructure the agency.

Governor Tom Wolf / Flickr

The Pennsylvania Senate could vote Monday or Tuesday on whether to put the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority under state oversight.

A bill that would empower the Public Utility Commission to oversee the embattled agency has been pending before the full Senate since June 30. When the chamber returns from summer recess Monday, it will have two days to act on the measure. Without action by Tuesday, the bill will be removed from the Senate calendar with the possibility of later consideration.

Steve Johnson / flickr

Residents of Pittsburgh's northern neighborhoods and Reserve Township can again use water from their faucets. The Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority announced Thursday evening that the precautionary flush and boil advisory instituted Monday had been lifted.

The advisory has not been lifted in Millvale, however, where additional tests are required to verify that the water is safe.

Kathleen J. Davis / 90.5 WESA

An estimated 18,000 homes in Pittsburgh's northern neighborhoods, Millvale and Reserve Township will continue to be under a flush and boil water advisory until at least Thursday, Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority officials said Tuesday.

Spencer Neuharth via USFWS Mountain-Prairie / Flickr

Lead isn’t the only harmful substance that can make its way into drinking water.

Chemicals from pharmaceuticals, pesticides and personal care products can all end up in the water supply.

Liz Reid / 90.5 WESA

Every day, multiple times a day, Jesse Perkins runs the water in his kitchen sink for about a minute-and-a-half, until it runs cold, indicating that it’s fresh water from the main in the middle of his street. He does it before he fills up a glass of water or a pot for cooking.

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

Carol McCullough, 76, lives in the West End neighborhood of Westwood in the home she and her husband have shared for nearly 50 years. She had her water tested for lead years ago, but when the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority announced last summer that it had found elevated lead levels in some homes, she decided to get another test, just to be safe.

Katie Meyer / WITF

Pennsylvania gets a failing grade for its efforts to protect children from high levels of lead in the water at their schools, according to a report released two weeks ago from Public Interest Research Groups, a national federation of left-leaning, independent nonprofits.

It advises—among other things—that schools install water filters as soon as possible while working on longer-term solutions.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

Pittsburgh City Councilwoman Deb Gross is leading a fundraising effort to buy lead-filtering water pitchers for families with young children.

She said the city could provide a countertop pitcher to each of Pittsburgh's estimated 25,000 households with a child under age 6 for less than $1 million. She said she hopes private foundations and the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority will be able to allocate funding within a month.

Virginia Alvino / 90.5 WESA

No agency is independently testing or verifying the quality of Pittsburgh’s drinking water, according to an audit released Monday by Allegheny County Controller Chelsa Wagner.

Oregon Dept. of Transportation / Flickr

Water used for drinking and preparing food at Pittsburgh Public Schools is now being tested for lead.

The Allegheny County Health Department will work with Pittsburgh Public Schools and local water authorities to pinpoint and shut-off dangerous outlets throughout the 70 district facilities. All testing will take place this summer.

Even though there is no federal or state law requiring drinking water to be tested for lead, Pittsburgh Public Schools Chief Operations Officer Ronald Joseph said district officials want to take a proactive approach.

U.S. Department of Agriculture

Sediment and pollution still plague the Chesapeake Bay Watershed, which supplies water for agricultural purposes in several states, including Pennsylvania.

Lead-Tainted Water Has A Long History In The U.S.

Jan 28, 2016
Carlos Osorio / AP Photo

The municipal water crisis in Flint, Mich., has brought new attention to the dangers of lead in drinking water.

When the city starting using the Flint River as its source for municipal water in 2014, the water was so corrosive, it caused lead to leach out of pipes and fixtures. 

How Safe Is Pittsburgh's Drinking Water?

Jan 22, 2016
Paul Sancya / AP Images

After thousands of children were exposed to lead due to poor water quality in Flint, Michigan, many across the nation are wondering if their own water is safe. Could it happen in Pittsburgh? Essential Pittsburgh’s Paul Guggenheimer sat down with James Good, Executive Director of the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority, to see what the agency is doing to remain compliant.  

Area Partnerships Protecting Water From The Source

Jun 11, 2015

After nearly a year of study and work from water suppliers, state officials, environmental groups and others, a plan has been announced to protect drinking water from its source – the rivers.

The River Alert Information Network (RAIN) announced the Lower Allegheny Regional Partnership and the Lower Monongahela Regional Partnership. It’s a consortium of water suppliers which, in addition to protection, will employ an early-warning spill detection system.

According to the United Nations, nearly 800 million people around the world don’t have access to clean water — a daunting challenge for political leaders, humanitarians and scientists, but it hasn’t stopped a group of Pittsburgh area students from working on a solution. 

”We actually didn’t realize how extensive it was until we did all of our research,” said Kambree Love, a junior at South Fayette High School.  

Water Quality Monitors Wanted

Mar 6, 2013

3 Rivers Quest monitors water quality in rivers, tributaries and headwater streams that drain more than 25,000 square miles in five states.  Local watershed groups may apply for grants up to $7000 to help collect samples.  The four geographical regions and those partnering with West Virginia University in the project are the Monongahela (West Virginia Water Research Institute), Upper Ohio (Wheeling Jesuit University), Southern Allegheny (Duquesne University) and Northern Allegheny (Iron Furnace Chapter of Trout Unlimited).