PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Mike Kreuger has been drinking city water all of his life, but has never been as concerned as when he got a letter from the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority this week.
It warned of high levels of lead in the drinking water of some homes.
“We have grandchildren, we have neighbors with small children, people that are getting ready to have babies, and I’m concerned because I have COPD, and we don’t want to get sick,” said Kreuger.
In testing the water from 100 at-risk homes, the PWSA found that 17 of the samples exceeded the federal allowable levels of lead. This required the authority to inform all of its customers in letters, which went out to 81,000 homes this week.
In it, the authority offers to test your water from free, but when Kreuger and others have called the number this week, they’ve only gotten a busy signal.
“This is what amazes me. You send this notice out to everyone in the city, and you have no means to answer the phone calls that you’re inevitably going to get,” Kreuger said.
PWSA says in anticipation of a deluge of requests it has put on additional call takers, and the letters offer the option of email.
But spokesperson Brendan Schubert says all request will be honored.
“If you call in and it’s busy, you can submit your request via email or you can leave a message and we will return your call as well,” Schubert said.
The authority stresses that most homes tested had no detectible levels of lead, and the vast majority were within acceptable limits.
The most at-risk homes are those in older section of town like Krueger’s Olympia Street residence in Mount Washington where some may have lead service lines delivering the water from the street mains into the house.
If that’s the case, there’s the costly option of having the line replaced or the cheaper solution of installing a filter.