NEWS - John Welch criticizes Bill Peduto's handling of PWSA problems

Mayoral candidate John Welch criticizes Bill Peduto's handling of PWSA problems

April 14, 2017 12:00 AM

By Don Hopey / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

The Rev. John Welch, a city mayoral candidate, has again criticized Mayor Bill Peduto for his mismanagement of the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority and said a plan to spend $1 million on carafe-style water filters is “ludicrous and unacceptable.”

Thursday, at his second news conference in as many months on the Penn Avenue sidewalk outside the PWSA headquarters, Rev. Welch also said that installing point of entry filters directly onto residential service lines is a better solution than the carafe-style filters and would cost significantly less than digging up and replacing the 16,000 to 20,000 city-owned lead service lines.

“This solution will ensure that the water delivered to the residence is completely free of lead and other contaminants at a fraction of the cost of breaking up the streets and replacing half of the laterals,” Rev. Welch said.

He also said the city, county and state should join in a declaration of a state of emergency for the city’s water supply, making it eligible for state and federal funding.

Concentrations of lead in water supplied by PWSA to some of its customers with lead service lines have climbed above the 15 parts per billion federal drinking water standard. To reduce that unhealthy exposure, the state has ordered PWSA to annually replace at least 7 percent of the city-owned lead connector lines, located between water mains and household service lines.

Mr. Peduto has estimated that replacing the city-owned lead laterals would cost $411 million. Rev. Welch said the point of entry filters would cost about $300 million, and are an allowable alternative to replacing the connector lines.

“This is what I would do as mayor,” Rev. Welch said. “I will not put the health of city residents at risk nor spend taxpayer money without first looking at compliant and more cost-effective solutions.”

Peoples Natural Gas has pledged to put up half of the money for the carafe-style filter program, with the city and PWSA splitting the remainder.

The city has not yet selected a filter provider or made public plans for how the filters will be distributed, except to say that priority will be given to areas of the city where the PWSA will be working in coming months to replace the city-owned lead service line connectors, low-income households and those with young children and pregnant women who are especially vulnerable to lead exposure.



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