South Pittsburgh Reporter - Serving South Pittsburgh Since 1939

By Margaret L. Smykla
Contributing Writer 

PWSA customers in South Side may have lead lines replaced


The May meeting of the South Side Planning Forum featured presentations on the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority (PWSA) and its lease service line replacement project, and a proposed City Theatre renovation project.

In his overview of the PWSA, executive director Robert Weimar said January, 2018, was one of the largest “break” months, with 179 breaks, including 90 service line breaks. The organization spent $50,000 a day making repairs.

The problem is the system is old, with some lines more than 150 years old. A lot of pipe is in “bad condition,” he said.

Mr. Weimar said with the city losing residents and therefore tax money over the past few decades the PWSA has suffered with a loss of maintenance dollars.

To improve the quality and efficiency of PWSA, Mayor Peduto established a blue-ribbon panel with a goal to make the organization a high-performing water system.

Its current five-year-plan is more than $1 billion, he said.

Regarding water quality and lead, Dan Duffy, lead program manager, said PWSA plans to replace 2,100 residential lead service lines by the end of 2018.

PWSA used curb box inspection results, PWSA historical records, and the age of water mains to determine the location of lead service lines.

PWSA will pay for the entire lead service line replacement.

Customers identified for replacement under this program will be contacted by the Authority with a letter 45 days in advance. The letter will ask for permission to do work on their property.

In the South Side Flats, the impacted areas include some properties on Carey Way, Larkins Way, Sarah Street, and East Carson Street from 19th to 25th streets; and some properties on Wharton St., Fox Way, Sidney Street, and Wrights Ways from 17th to 22nd streets.

To view the PSWA lead service line map, visit:

PWSA personnel will inform the customer in advance about the impact on their property as all restoration costs must be paid by the homeowner, such as grass replacement.

Homeowners may opt out of line replacement on their property.

For those who choose to go ahead with the work, PWSA personnel will discuss what they plan to do, and any options. Typically, the work takes one day and the homeowner must be present.

No parking signs will be posted one to two weeks before construction, and 48-hour notice door hangers will be placed at affected properties.

Customers who wish to replace a private lead service line at their own expense should contact PWSA and the organization will replace the public portion at the same time at the Authority’s expense, if it is also made of lead. 

To a question about the recent rate hike, Mr. Weimar said there was a $15 monthly increase, effective Jan. 1. Rates will increase by 28 percent in 2018.

Moving on, James McNeel, managing director of the City Theatre Company, and William Vernon and Jozef Petrak, architects at Renaissance 3 Architects, presented a proposal to address a shortage of space for back-of-house operations.

The proposal calls for demolition of a building on Bingham St. that City Theatre owns, and renovation/conversion of the adjacent former industrial property that extends to Muriel Street into facilities for set production and other functions that support its shows.

Mr. McNeel requested a letter of support for the project from the Planning Forum but Tracy Myers, chair of the Development Review Committee (DRC), said the project should first be reviewed by the committee to ensure the proposal, and particularly demolition of the Bingham Street building, is consistent with the design quality and general development principles South Side has sustained for three decades.

Mr. Vernon and Mr. Petrak agreed to present the design at the next meeting of the DRC at the end of May.

Due to the length of the meeting, there were no reports on the South Side Neighborhood Plan or the DRC.

In announcements, the South Side Slopes Neighborhood Association (SSSNA) will celebrate its anniversary with a picnic at 7 p.m. on July 10 at the Bandi Schaum Community Garden. More details to follow.

OpenStreetsPGH will be staging three free events this year: May 27, June 24, and July 28.

Miles of city streets will be closed to traffic from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. for joggers, bicyclists, walkers, and skaters to use the streets for fun in a car-free environment.

The May 27 route will be four miles from Market Square, Downtown to Uptown through the Armstrong Tunnel to East Carson Street in South Side.

The June 24 route will be four miles from Market Square along Penn Avenue, from Downtown to the Strip District, and Butler Street from Doughboy Square to 52nd Street in Lawrenceville.

The July 28 route will be the longest OpenStreetsPGH route ever: a 4.4 mile loop in Pittsburgh’s East End traveling through Homewood, Larimer, East Liberty, Shadyside, and North Point Breeze.

For more information, visit: .

From January 1 to April 30, the Welcome Center had 112 volunteers for 810 hours of donated work. There were 2,009 Center visitors from around the world.

South Side publications are available at the Welcome Center.

The next Planning Forum meeting will be on June 12.


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