PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto is reacting to comments by the Allegheny County Controller claiming the city isn’t doing enough to address problems with lead in the water in PWSA lines.
Peduto said Chelsa Wagner’s suggested plan to fix the problem is far too expensive and is also illegal.
Peduto said state law prohibits the PWSA from replacing lines on private property and would cost hundreds of millions of dollars to do so.
During a press conference on Tuesday, Wagner called on the City of Pittsburgh to require the PWSA to replace all lead lines, including private service lines.
She said partial replacement only makes the problem worse and that full line replacements have been done in Philadelphia and York County.
“Continuing to shift this burden onto the homeowner when it’s a problem caused by the city is unconscionable,” Wagner said.
Peduto said a private company operates the water in York County and Philadelphia has its own department. As it stands, Pittsburgh has to follow different guidelines.
“The Municipal Authorities Act prohibits any authority from entering onto private property in order to do the work. We actually have a bill that’s introduced in the Senate from Sen. [Wayne] Fontana, which would change that for the City of Pittsburgh,” Peduto said.
Sen. Fontana is proposing a change to state law that would allow municipalities and authorities like the PWSA to repair privately owned service lines. Fontana is hoping to have his proposal on the governor’s desk by the end of the year.
Without these changes, Peduto said the PWSA is only permitted to work on publicly owned lines. That has left homeowners and small business owners to remove private lead service lines on their own.
Meanwhile, Peduto has released his water safety plan, which will provide free lead water filters to Pittsburgh residents.