Thursday, January 11, 2018

DEP Taking Over Drinking Water System Inspections In Allegheny County

The Department of Environmental Protection and Allegheny County Health Department Thursday announced that effective February 1, 2018, DEP’s Safe Drinking Water Program will resume inspection responsibilities for the 66 public drinking water systems in Allegheny County.
Since the mid-1980s, implementation of the safe drinking water program was shared between DEP and ACHD, with ACHD performing inspections and DEP conducting permitting and major enforcement actions.
Except for Erie County restaurant water supply oversight, no other county health departments in the state have retained inspection responsibilities for public drinking water systems.  
Now, through DEP-wide efforts to increase the number of sanitarians responsible for inspections of public water systems, the Southwest Region of DEP has the capacity to handle safe drinking water inspection obligations in Allegheny County.
DEP has put in place additional staff assigned specifically to Allegheny County. These additional staff will be supported by an existing team of regional permitting, compliance, operations, and technical assistance staff.
“DEP regularly evaluates current and past practices to best serve the public,” said DEP Southwest Regional Director Ron Schwartz. “While this is a change for drinking water systems in Allegheny County, this decision reinforces our commitment to safe drinking water.”
“We’ve been talking about the possibility of transition for a long time, and are happy to see that DEP now has the capacity to handle drinking water inspections for the County,” said ACHD Director Karen Hacker. “This allows ACHD to reallocate resources to other priority areas. We will work with DEP to ensure a smooth transition.”
DEP has begun and will continue outreach to the regulated community, which includes public water systems and laboratories. Detailed explanations of what constitute public water systems can be found in the 2016 Pennsylvania Public Water System Compliance Report.
ACHD and DEP will continue to work together to ensure a successful transition.
DEP’s cooperation with ACHD regarding sewage and waste compliance programs will continue.
Residents with questions about their public drinking water should contact their water supplier or DEP’s Southwest Regional Office (24-hour line: 412-442-4000) for permitting, compliance, technical assistance, complaints, or emergency issues.
For more information on the drinking water program, visit DEP’s Bureau of Safe Drinking Water webpage.
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