PITTSBURGH, PA (March 8, 2017) Mayor William Peduto announced that the City has partnered with Peoples Gas and the Pittsburgh Water & Sewer Authority to invest $1 million to provide filters to every PWSA customer to reduce high lead levels in their drinking water.
The City plans to offer the free filters to all homeowners in the City of Pittsburgh. Priority in issuing the filters will be given to residents whose lines test at or above 10 parts per billion for lead, those in areas where the PWSA will be doing its own lead service line replacements starting this spring, and to low-income residents.
The City will offer to install the filters in schools and community and senior centers.
The initial estimated cost of the program is $1 million. The funding would come from $500,000 provided by Peoples Gas and matched with $250,000 from each the City and PWSA.
"Peoples Gas is once again proving itself as one of Pittsburgh's greatest corporate citizens," Mayor Peduto said. "While we are working on much-needed long-term PWSA infrastructure upgrades, as well as systematic changes to the authority's operational and financial inadequacies, this short term solution will help keep residents safe from unsafe lead levels in their water."
"PWSA customers are also Peoples Gas customers, and Peoples is proud to partner with the City and PWSA to address the most immediate and pressing need to assure safe drinking water," said Peoples president and CEO Morgan O'Brien.
Currently Peoples offers grants to customers in need of assistance in replacing appliances within their homes. The company sees this as a natural expansion of this program.
Homeowners will be presented with "point of use" filters to be installed at the tap.
The filters to be installed in schools and public facilities are expected to be "point of entry" filters, meaning they are attached to inflow water pipes, and will filter all water coming into the buildings.
The announcement comes in the wake of calls by Councilwoman Deb Gross, a PWSA board member, to provide filters to water users facing high rates of lead in their water.
In related news, the Urban Redevelopment Authority board is set to vote tomorrow on a loan program to help low-income homeowners replace their lead lines. Maximum loan amounts would be $10,000, with an interest rate of 3% and a term of up to 10 years depending on the amount borrowed. The program would be eligible for borrowers with incomes below 120% of the area median income.
Also, PWSA is currently barred under the state's Municipal Authorities Act from replacing homeowner lead service lines themselves. To rectify that, Mayor Peduto will be meeting with state legislators to work on amending the Act to allow the PWSA to do so, similar to the authority given to Philadelphia.
More announcements on possible state legislation and other water-related issues are expected soon.
Details of the application process and distribution of filters will be announced in coming weeks.