Pittsburgh Lead Levels Fall Below Federal Action Level

Line Replacement, Orthophosphate Will Continue

Joe DeStio
January 24, 2020 - 4:04 pm
Filling glass with tap water

ID 109924760 © Tero Vesalainen | Dreamstime.com

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PITTSBURGH (Newsradio 1020 KDKA) - For the first time since orthophosphate was added to Pittsburgh's water supply to control for lead, the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority is reporting lead levels below the federal action level of 15 parts per billion. The reading at the end of December was 10 ppb. That's down from 17.5 ppb last June and 20 ppb in December of 2018.

"It's proving to be effective and is actually getting better at its job over time," according to PWSA Deputy Executive Director Will Pickering.

Orthophosphate works by lining the inside of lead pipes, preventing lead from leaching into the water.

"Our goal is to replace all of the lead service lines in our system," says Pickering. "But it's important to remember that old fixtures and plumbing may still have lead."
Which is why he says orthophosphate will continue to be added to the system.

The December Compliance Test Results:

116 had a lead concentration of less than 5 ppb
34 were between 5.0 and 9.9 ppb
12 were between 10.0 and 14.9 ppb
4 were between 15.0 and 19.9 ppb
1 was between 20 and 49.9 ppb
1 was higher than 50 ppb

A total of 168 samples were taken from customers known to have lead service lines. 96 % were below the federal action level.

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