PWSA reaches agreement with PA AG's office
July 21, 2020
The Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority has reached an agreement with Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro's office as part of an investigation launched in February of 2019 regarding violations of the Safe Water Drinking Act in 2016 and 2017. As part of the settlement, PWSA will also hire an independent corporate monitor and make a donation of $500,000 to organizations and programs that protect Pittsburgh residents from lead contamination.
In June 2016, PWSA exceeded the drinking water lead action level established under the Pennsylvania Safe Drinking Water Act. As PWSA attempted to meet federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) service line replacement requirements, PWSA unintentionally violated the Safe Water Drinking Act in 2016 and 2017 by failing to provide 45-day advanced notice of partial service lead line replacement to customers at some homes, and failing to provide post-construction test kits.
In November 2017, PWSA entered into a consent order agreement with DEP related to these violations that included a civil penalty of $2.4 million. The Attorney General's charges were about the same violations.
PWSA Executive Director Will Pickering said: "I want to make sure our customers know PWSA is deeply sorry for not meeting the standards you expect of us and we expect of ourselves. We've shifted our culture and priorities since 2016 and 2017, revising our compliance systems, public outreach, dramatically increasing our lead line replacement program. I want our customers to know that we are committed to public health and safety, and that their well-being is our top priority."
Since 2016 and 2017, PWSA worked with legislators to modify state laws so PWSA could cease partial lead line replacements and instead replace full lead service lines, including service lines on the private property of PWSA customers. All of the homes that received partial lead line replacements in 2016 and 2017 were contacted again by PWSA later and offered a no-cost full line replacement, as well as test kits and filters.
Mr. Pickering continued: "Since PWSA signed the consent order with DEP in 2017, we implemented an industry-leading Community Lead Response program and replaced more than 7,300 lead service lines. We are well on our way to our goal of replacing all lead lines in the city of Pittsburgh in the next few years. We also established a Community Lead Response Advisory Committee to further increase transparency and community responsiveness. We are grateful for your trust and we will continue to do the ongoing work to improve the safety and reliability of Pittsburgh's drinking water."
As part of the agreement, PWSA will hire an external and independent corporate monitor to provide reports to the Office of Attorney General, PWSA, and the PA Department of Environmental Protection.
In addition to hiring an independent monitor, the PWSA will also donate $500,000 to organizations to protect Pittsburgh residents from lead contamination: $250,000 will be donated to the Safe and Healthy Homes program, and $250,000 will be donated to Women for a Healthy Environment's "Get the Lead Out, Pittsburgh" program.
Learn more about PWSA's Community Lead Response program: http://lead.pgh2o.com/.