Homes built before 1970 are at greater risk for lead exposure because lead pipes were not banned in Allegheny County until 1969. (Photo by Natasha Khan/PublicSource/File)

Since determining that lead levels in its water supply mains were above the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency standard of 15 parts per billion, the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority issued $4 million in contracts to replace up to 1,500 public water lines by the end of June.

In the interim, as a stop-gap measure, the City of Pittsburgh has begun giving away filters—which residents can attach to their drinking water faucets. But even after that replacement, schools, churches, apartment buildings, businesses and private residences may need to replace the lines running from the street to their buildings—and the city’s residents will have to pay for it.

Several plumbers contacted by the New Pittsburgh Courier said making estimates on those costs would be unprofessional because there is no cookie-cutter approach. Although most, like Alexander Beasley, owner of Beasley Plumbing in Swissvale, will give free estimates.

“Every job is different. You never know what you’re going to get. So, I wouldn’t feel comfortable give any kind of ‘best-case’ figure on what a job will cost,” he said. “I will say that I haven’t been flooded with calls about it yet, though.”

Given this, it is not surprising that the PWSA puts the range of costs at anywhere between $1,500 and $8,000 or more. This is not a cost that homeowners’ insurance covers.

However, as reported earlier in the Courier (April 19), the Urban Redevelopment Authority of Pittsburgh and Dollar Bank have created a loan program that would cover some, or all, of those costs for homeowners with household incomes at or below 150 percent of the Area Median Income ($78,000 for an individual, $106,000 for family of four).

Under the program guidelines, borrowers can receive up to $10,000, at 3 percent interest.

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