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SQUIRREL HILL (KDKA) – In Squirrel Hill, PWSA contractors replaced a lead service line with a copper one by using an innovative and less disruptive “pulling” method.

Trenches were dug along Phillips Avenue as part of an effort by the PWSA to replace lead service lines with copper ones.

David Kovachick is the superintendent of the lead service line replacement program. The Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority says it’s a costly and extensive task having to replace 2,100 lines just this year. It’s a number the state mandates.

“We will replace the public side of the line which goes from curbstop out into the street, connected to the main and this year, we’ll be replacing the private side all the way into the house,” PWSA Executive Director Bob Weimar said.

The reason is to figure out what works best and costs the least. It’s called the pull method, which is innovative and less disruptive. Contractors will attempt to pull the old lead service line while also threading a new copper line in its place.

“Through that lead line and then run a cable, pull the cables through with the string line,” Kovachick said.

This morning, things went smoothly.

“This method is desired simply because we don’t have to excavate the yard, we wouldn’t have to take out that tree or excavate under the porch,” Weimar said.

It won’t always be this easy, but crews will become acclimated with conditions in several different neighborhoods across the city before tackling all 15,000 lines that need to be replaced over the next few years.

The total cost of this project is about $40 million, but it’s necessary, according to officials.