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South Hills Water Line Break Complicated By PAWC Strike

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Harold Hayes Harold Hayes
Harold Hayes joined KDKA-TV in August of 1979 as a general assignment...
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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – A significant water outage has been reported in the South Hills.

People in many communities, including Beechview, Brentwood, Green Tree and Mt. Lebanon all reported a loss of water throughout the morning.

“My wife woke me up, said there was no water, that was about five in the morning,” said one South Hills resident.

Most areas have water again except for six homes at the source of the break on Brook Street in Carrick, and some areas are still experiencing low water pressure. Service to those homes is expected to be restored sometime on Saturday.

Penn American Water company says it has isolated the problem to a 42-inch water line in a wooded area in the South Hills in the hills above Route 51.

A steady stream of gushing water ran through Carrick.

“Someone gave me a little bottle of water, one of them workers did,” said Shirley Cunic of Carrick. “It wasn’t opened and I took my medicine with that, that’s all I was worried about.”

Other residents said they weren’t sure what had happened.

Officials with PAWC had said repairing the line could take four to six hours.

“We have isolated the break,” said Gary Lobaugh with PAWC, “which means we’ve been able to shut the pipe off at two ends and pump water around it.”

Friday afternoon, a separate water main break was also reported near Rinne Street in Arlington. Officials said water there should have been restored in about an hour.

As they dealt with the break, there was also an ongoing labor dispute among union workers at PAWC — 144 workers walked off the job Wednesday.

They’re calling it a walkout, but reportedly other unions are honoring their picket lines.

Members of utility workers’ local 537 have been involved in the ongoing dispute over what they believe are unfair labor practices.

Some who normally would be helping the repair Friday’s broken line were out picketing. They carried signs referring to those who were working as “scabs.”

So did the union have anything to do with the disruption?

Both the union and the water company say no.

“Absolutely not,” said Kevin Booth with the Utility Workers of America. “Normally, they’re back in service pretty quickly. “They’re telling people they’ll be back in water in four to six hours, which wouldn’t even be normal with these qualified individuals fixing the leak.”

Lobaugh also said PAWC doesn’t believe there was any correlation between the strike and the water line break.

Stay with KDKA for more information.

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