By Lynne Hayes-Freeland

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — If you’ve lived here long enough, chances are you’ve seen just about everything floating down one of the city’s three rivers.

Today, it was purple water in the Allegheny River. The sighting happened just after lunch time.

“We’ve been able to identify the source of the product that is entering the river coming from the PWSA facility here locally,” Alvin Henderson with Allegheny County Emergency Services, said. “The product has been identified as sodium permanganate.”

The chemical is one ALCOSAN normally uses to remove minerals from drinking water, but it ended up in the river. When people spotted it, phones began ringing off the hooks.

“It only ended up in the river because we were doing routine maintenance, discharging some of it into the sanitary system which we’re permitted to,” Stanley States, a spokesperson for ALCOSAN, said. “Unfortunately it rained heavy the last two days so the combined sewer overflow system is discharging into the river.”

The chemical is normally added to drinking water, but officials say it is diluted before we even see it.

Even still, officials say they will monitor the quality of the water in the river for the next few hours just to keep an eye on the purple water floating downstream.

“The Allegheny County Health Department and the Department of Environmental Protection will work together to guarantee water quality through this process …” Henderson said.

Allegheny County Emergency Services says there should be no impact on aquatic life in the river.

Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority
Allegheny County Emergency Services

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