Pittsburgh’s water authority estimates that 25% of service lines contain lead. But is their math right?

Manda Metzger, a project manager with PWSA, holds a portion of a removed lead service line. (Photo by Ryan Loew/PublicSource)

Though the lead test results released Tuesday by the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority do not exceed the federal action limit, the question must still be answered. For one, the 90th-percentile result of 15 ppb is the threshold. Further, the state won’t lift its order to replace at least 7 percent of all lead service lines each year until the city’s water tests at or below the allowable limit for back-to-back rounds of testing.
To determine the scope of work to meet the state requirement, the city needs to develop an inventory of all lead service lines in the city.
The magnitude of this task is difficult to overstate: The PWSA’s historical records are largely incomplete, so the work of counting the service lines must be done manually, one by one.


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