PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Roughly 18,000 Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority customers remain under a Precautionary Flush and Boil Water Advisory.
The advisory covers the North Side of the City of Pittsburgh, as well as Reserve Township and Millvale.
A tear in the cover at the Lanpher reservoir in Millvale is what prompted the advisory, which will be in place until further notice.
“We want to apologize for the problem that this may have caused some of our customers,” said PWSA Executive Director Robert Weimar at a Tuesday afternoon news conference.
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Officials worry about possible contamination from birds that sit on the cover. However, so far, none of the tests have shown any contamination.
Samples were taken Tuesday morning, but they cannot count in the approval process with the state in getting the order lifted.
“Because they asked for us to stabilize, or verify that we have stabilized the chlorine levels in the entire system,” said Weimar. “That’s one of the issues they wanted to have done before they were willing to accept any samples, which we have done.”
Crews have isolated the problem area until repairs can be made, and everything right now is running off of the Highland 2 reservoir.
“We are dealing with a system that is like a very old car, and, at any given point in time, a particular part might fail,” Weimar said.
The Lanpher reservoir was taken offline on Monday evening.
“Our efforts have been, first and foremost, to stabilize the system,” said Weimar. “We have disconnected the reservoir as of 7:30 [Monday] night; so therefore, the offending reservoir is off-line and will not have any water flowing from it to the water system until it is repaired.”
In an abundance of caution, officials issued the advisory Monday. They are hoping to lift the order by Thursday, or Friday at the very latest.
“We’re confident that we can make our way through this, and provide the water supply and the water quality that the public demands,” Weimar added.
Water distribution locations have been set up in various locations. Each location will be equipped with a 2,500-gallon water buffalo.
- Millvale Community Center, 416 Lincoln Avenue, Millvale, PA 15209
- Reserve VFD, 33 Lonsdale Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15212
City of Pittsburgh
- Pressley High Rise, 601 Pressley Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15214
- Pennsylvania Bidwell, 1014 Sheffield Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15214
- Pittsburgh Bureau of Fire Station 33, 3284 Central Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA
- Pittsburgh Bureau of Fire Station 35, 1519 Orchlee Street, Pittsburgh PA
- Pittsburgh Bureau of Fire Station 38, 198 Essen Street, Pittsburgh, PA
The water buffaloes opened to the public at 10 a.m. However, containers are not being provided.
If you are unable to get to the water distribution site, call 311. If you are outside of the City of Pittsburgh, call (412)-255-2621. City Public Safety officials say water was delivered Tuesday afternoon to several residents and no illnesses related to the advisory have been reported.
Folks at Pressley High Rise are taking advantage of the distribution site.
KDKA’s Amy Wadas Reports —
“Every time you hear something like that you get nervous. I’m just taking it as it comes,” Marlene Taylor said. “Very appreciative. Thank you. It means something to us here, and God bless you.”
The complex houses around 200 units and a good portion of the residents are disabled.
“We will take each family a couple bottles of water and just make sure everyone is okay. Do a little door knocking, check in on everyone,” Chuck Rohrer, of the Pittsburgh Housing Authority, said.
Officials offer these important steps to ensure the safety of the water:
- Boil tap water vigorously for at least one minute prior to using it for drinking or cooking (the minute starts when the water begins to bubble). This includes water used for brushing teeth, making ice, washing raw foods, preparation of drinks, and water for pets.
- Wait for the water to cool before using it, or store it in the refrigerator in a clean container.
Over in Millvale, businesses are feeling the impact of the advisory. You don’t have to look far to spot a “closed” sign on the doors of many of the borough’s popular restaurants.
At Frank’s Pizza and Chicken it’s business as usual, just with some extra precautions.
“It definitely has delayed preparation of the food because we have to boil all the water or use bottled water to prepare our dough, our sauce, and once we want to rinse off any kind of food. Plus, the washing of the dishes,” said James Farine, co-owner of Frank’s Pizza & Chicken.
KDKA’s Julie Grant Reports —
Any water being used is boiled or bottled. Employees are carefully sanitizing their hands before making or handling any pizza.
“We’re using all the necessary precautions to make sure our product is safe,” said Farine.
The Millvale and Troy Hill restaurant locations are in the Boil Advisory area, but it’s nothing they haven’t experienced before.
“When Ivan came through, this town got flooded, and we did not get flooded, so we were taking all the precautions then, and we were helping feed the neighborhood,” said Farine.
Stanley Kurzawski lives in Millvale and boarded his bus with a whole case of water to take with him to work.
“This is a big inconvenience for us to have to boil water every time we need water,” said Kurzawski.
He and his family have been going through bottled water faster than they can buy it, and he hopes stores don’t run out.
“We bought a case this morning to make coffee. We’re already out of that,” said Kurzawski.
Mayor Bill Peduto says the PWSA’s ongoing issues will not be easy or quick to solve.
“This is a situation we are going to face time-and-time again. We have an antiquated system that in certain areas is beyond failure point. We lack duplicity backup systems because we never had invested in them, and when we see a problem area occur it will come with an impact,” said Peduto. “What’s taken decades to get to isn’t going to be solved overnight, it’s going to be at least a decade to solve the problems within PWSA, and it is going to cost billions of dollars.”
Pennsylvania Speaker of the House Rep. Mike Turzai released this statement on the situation at the PWSA:
“The management failures at the PWSA have continued for too long. It is hard to fathom that 20 percent of the PWSA’s workforce is on disability leave. Further it is inconceivable that the authority loses 50 percent of its water as a result of leaks in the system. What have the city leaders done to remedy this deplorable situation? Oversight is needed to bring the system under control.
“The House passed House Bill 1490 by a unanimous vote on June 8. We would encourage the Senate to move forward with approving this legislation before the situation gets worse.”
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