Wednesday, October 25, 2017

DEP Orders Pittsburgh Water Authority To Make Critical Infrastructure Upgrades

The Department of Environmental Protection Wednesday issued an Administrative Order requiring the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority to make critical infrastructure upgrades and repairs to its public drinking water system specifically to ensure adequate pressure and volume within the system.
This order requires no action on the part of PWSA customers. Residents should continue to use water as they normally would. The Department’s order pertains to improvements to infrastructure; there is no boil water advisory in effect.
“DEP’s Safe Drinking Water program staff have devoted significant resources to specifically addressing PWSA’s drinking water issues,” said DEP Secretary Patrick McDonnell. “DEP is committed to providing necessary oversight of the Commonwealth’s 8,500 public water systems, including PWSA.”
DEP has issued an Administrative Order to require PWSA to take specific corrective actions on a schedule prescribed by DEP.  
The order targets the water system’s ability to provide a continuous supply of safe and potable water to consumers, and pertains to pressure and volume, not an imminent threat from contaminants.
The order has been issued to PWSA, the lessee and operator, and to the City of Pittsburgh, which owns the water system.
In its Administrative Order, DEP requires the following and other actions from PWSA:
-- Restore the Lanpher Reservoir to service by completing repairs to the cover of the east cell of the reservoir initially, and ultimately the replacement of the covers and liners of both the east and west cells;
-- Resume operation of the Highland 1 Reservoir, which would require either the addition of an ultraviolet disinfection unit and other upgrades to the Highland Membrane Filtration Plant or the covering of the Highland 1 Reservoir, which would negate the need for operation of the Membrane Filtration Plant;
-- Ensure reliability of the Bruecken Pump Station by installing a backup pump and emergency backup power supply; and
-- Take necessary actions to assure that water at adequate pressure is continuously supplied to users.
PWSA has cooperated with DEP’s investigations and requests for documents, and DEP expects that PWSA will continue to comply with DEP oversight.
“We have and will continue to provide technical guidance and clearly communicate compliance requirements to PWSA and process permits quickly and thoroughly,” said DEP Acting Southwest Regional Director Ron Schwartz. “We are all working toward the same goal of continuing to provide safe drinking water to residents, and this order provides a plan moving forward.”
Previously, DEP identified significant deficiencies and violations at PWSA, which resulted in enforcement actions and field orders that led to two Tier 1 boil water advisories in January and August 2017. Following the incidents, DEP conducted investigations of PWSA’s system.
DEP has requested the assistance of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to perform a comprehensive performance evaluation of PWSA’s distribution system, which EPA has agreed to do.
For more information, including the Administrative Order, visit DEP’s Southwest Regional Office Pittsburgh Water & Sewer Authority webpage.
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