PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority says recent test results show they are making significant progress in lowering the lead levels in the city’s drinking water.

PWSA Director Will Pickering and Mayor Bill Peduto held a joint news conference Wednesday to talk about removing lead from the city’s pipes and putting in replacements.

According to the PWSA, two recent quality tests show great results even in the water at homes that still have lead pipes.

(Photo Credit: KDKA Photojournalist Bryan Orr)

The PWSA says the samples collected from 158 homes showed the “lowest lead testing result in over 20 years and the second consecutive round of testing below the action level.” Officials say this is the cleanest drinking water Pittsburgh has had since 1998.

“These two consecutive rounds place PWSA within compliance of the lead and copper rule for the first time since 2016,” Pickering said. “This has been a long time coming.”

The executive director says the tests show Orthophosphate is working. That is the additive they started using last spring to reduce lead levels in the water.

Orthophosphate, which is approved by the Environmental Protection Agency, is a food-grade additive that forms a protective layer inside of lead service lines. The PSWA says it creates a barrier between the lead pipes and the water flowing through them.

“We stood here three years ago in a situation with an authority that couldn’t collect its bills,” Peduto said. “Customer service was yelling at people. The lead levels of our system were approaching Flint.”

The state gave Pittsburgh low-interest loans and grants to get the work done. And for people who have water service in the city, your rates are going up.

For more information on the PWSA’s response, visit their website here.