WILKINSBURG RESIDENT JOHN CLARK gets a water filter from Homewood Children’s Village. (Photo by J.L. Martello)

The Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority recently acknowledged that sampling indicates lead levels in city water tests had again risen back above the “safe” level of 15 parts per billion, but said it will continue to follow the dictates of the consent order it signed with the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection in November.

Authority spokesman Will Pickering said the readings may just be the result of how samples are taken.

“Nothing has really changed in the system. It’s the product of the statistical analysis more than anything else,” he said, adding there is “no reason to believe there’s anything going on in the system that is dramatically changing water quality.”

Even if so, Homewood Children’s Village is taking no chances. On Jan. 18, the organization partnered with Women for a Healthy Environment to distribute 100 water filters to community residents.

“People had been advised to boil water (to address a bacterial presence), but boiling water doesn’t do anything about lead—in fact, it makes it worse,” said Mahallya Ramirez, who coordinated the event.

“There is no safe level of lead, and children are at a much greater risk. This is what we can give out to our community, because, as a non-profit we can’t touch everyone, so we have to focus on homes with women and small children.”

Several community members who received filters said they had been using bottled water for some time, and welcomed change.

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