Even though the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority’s partial lead line replacement strategy has resulted in even higher levels of lead in some residents’ water, the authority has opted to continue its program—but it will no longer do “partial” replacements.

The partial replacement strategy was implemented because the PWSA is barred from doing work on private property. So, the authority’s plan was to replace their lead supply lines up to the “curb box” where the public line joins a building’s supply line. The PWSA halted the partial replacements after tests revealed elevated lead levels.

Now, it is only replacing public lead lines that are connected to non-lead lines.

“The short answer is that we’re proceeding with lead line replacements,” PWSA Spokesman Will Pickering told the New Pittsburgh Courier. “But only if our work doesn’t result in a partial lead line replacement—that means that there is lead on the public side of the line, but a non-lead material on the private side.”

In a press announcement released June 12, the authority also unveiled a new interactive website that shows the progress of its curb box inspection program—which is working to reveal which of 71,000 residential service lines in the system are made of lead. The PWSA estimates about 25 percent, or 17,750, are lead lines.

Pickering said there are more than 2,000 data points in the map so far, and the inspections will continue until all 71,000 connections are catalogued. He said they originally planned to complete that by 2021, but are working to expedite the program.

“PWSA is fully committed to sharing the results with the public from our innovative curb box inspection program,” said Interim Executive Director Robert A. Weimar in the release. “Identifying the location of lead service lines is a critical step toward removing harmful lead from our water system.”

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