Pittsburgh Politicians Battle Over Lead in Drinking Water

Pittsburgh is one of several major American cities with lead levels in drinking water above the federal limit, according to an Environmental Protection Agency database.

A total of seven U.S. water systems, which each serve more than 100,000 people, had lead concentrations above the federal action level of 15 parts per billion in recent months, according to Environmental Protection Agency data. They include Portland, Ore., and Providence, R.I., which both exceeded the limit at least one other time in the past five years.

Since the lead crisis in Flint, Mich., cities have been under greater scrutiny from regulators and pressure from residents to reduce lead in drinking water.

Allegheny County Controller Chelsa Wagner is demanding that Pittsburgh leadership take action to address elevated lead levels in city water, which she called a “public health crisis.”

Wagner held a news conference on April 25, in which she compared the situation in Pittsburgh to the water crisis in Flint, Mich.

“Lead is leaching through the lines of one in four homes that are serviced by the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority," Wagner said.

Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto said the city has taken steps to protect residents, such as establishing a plan to provide water filters and offering low-interest loans for homeowners to replace lead lines.

Wagner said more needs to be done.

"Water filters are a good first step, but we need a full plan to remove the lead lines from our water system,"  Wagner said. "We can't let the message to our residents be ‘pay up or get poisoned.’"

More details here.

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