BELL TOWNSHIP (KDKA) – The Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority says lead levels here are nothing like they are in Flint, Michigan, but they are seeing numbers that are of some concern.

The Beaver Run Reservoir in Bell Township, Westmoreland County, is one of the major water supply sources for the Municipal Authority of Westmoreland County. And when the issue is pipe corrosion and lead, it is one of the more pure water sources in this region.

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But the corrosive elements in Flint, Michigan’s water source helped deteriorate pipes and send lead into the drinking system. That led to dramatic spikes in lead levels.

Here’s some perspective:

Lead levels reached 27 parts per billion in Flint. 15 is the level at which the EPA demands additional safety measures. The Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority reached 14.7 parts per billion according to 2013 numbers.

Penn American’s highest reading at that time was 10.

But the Westmoreland authority registered 0.002 parts per billion. Westmoreland credits a less industrial water source, and its own additives for those numbers.

But the PWSA knows it’s close to a threshold.

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“Right now we’re a little close,” said PWSA director Jim Good.

“The level is 15 and we’re at 14.7 but we’re testing again this year per the protocol. What we do now works but we want a new chemical that not only helps address the corrosivity but has the added effect of coating the inside of the pipe so that if there is any lead in the pipe it can’t even get out,” said Good.

The Allegheny County Health Department monitors the city water agency’s corrosion control permit compliance and is looking forward to this year’s testing that will update those 2013 figures.

“It is presumed that because of the corrosion control in those parameters that all the parameters are within the specs,” said John Jeffries, Supervisor of the Allegheny County Health Department Public Drinking Water and Waste Management Program.

“And then we should not be leaching any of the lead off of the pipes,” he said.

What is bound to happen is that water consumers who probably didn’t think much about lead levels before are thinking about them now.


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