Original post, updated Aug. 29, 8:53 a.m., below
About 18,000 homes in Pittsburgh’s North Side neighborhoods, as well as Millvale and Reserve Township, are under a precautionary flush and boil water advisory, PWSA and city officials announced Monday night.
“The purpose of the advisory is to ensure that all drinking water meets regulatory standards,” the authority stated in a release. “The health and safety of our drinking water is PWSA’s number one priority.”
Mayor Bill Peduto stressed that PWSA has not “identified any actual contamination” and that the advisory was issued out of an “abundance of caution.”
The city is planning to provide free water to residents of the affected areas after 10 a.m. Tuesday. A list of locations can be seen here and on the map below. Note: Residents must bring their own containers.
Pittsburgh Public Schools said in a release all facilities will be open Tuesday with bottled water provided to affected schools.
Affected areas, according to PWSA, include:
- Borough of Millvale
- Reserve Township
- Allegheny Center
- Allegheny West
- Brighton Heights
- Central Northside
- East Allegheny
- Herr’s Island
- North Shore
- Northview Heights
- Perry North
- Perry South
- Spring Garden
- Spring Hill – City View
- Summer Hill
- Troy Hill
The advisory stems from “deficiencies in the cover of the Lanpher reservoir that could compromise water quality,” PWSA initially announced. A tear in the cover was discovered over the weekend, officials clarified at a 10 p.m. news conference, leaving the water vulnerable to animals.
“Due to the presence of birds on the cover, we’re taking this protective action to eliminate any risk that the reservoir water would be impacted by bird droppings from the cover,” Peduto said. “That is the situation that we’re dealing with.”
PWSA officials first saw abnormal readings last week, an occurence that happens three to four times a month, per the authority’s interim executive director.
“Tests are not infallible,” PWSA’s Robert A. Weimar said. “Sampling methods are not infallible.”
Repeat tests conducted Saturday showed no contamination or issues, Weimar said. PWSA also brought in a consultant from California to determine if the reservoir’s cover had been compromised.
The Lanpher reservoir has been turned off, Weimar said, and “any contamination that might have existed is gone.” The reservoir won’t be turned back on until the cover has been replaced and repaired. “PWSA will also conduct flushing throughout the impacted area to eliminate potentially compromised water,” according to a release.
It’s not clear how long the advisory will be in effect. According to Weimar, the city is waiting on the state Department of Environmental Protection for the OK.
Read the rest of PWSA’s release below:
“The impacted areas are shown on the attached map (also available here: PWSA Boil Water Area). PWSA estimates the precautionary flush and boil water advisory affects approximately 18,000 homes in the PWSA service area. […]
“Customers within the impacted area should do the following before using water for drinking, making ice, washing dishes, brushing teeth, and food preparation until further notice:
“Residents who do not know if their property has lead water pipes or solder, it is recommended to first flush your lines by running water from your tap for at least one minute before boiling.
- “Boil tap water vigorously for at least one minute prior to using it for drinking or cooking (the minute starts when the water begins to bubble). This includes water used for brushing teeth, making ice, washing raw foods, preparation of drinks, and water for pets.
- “Wait for the water to cool before using it, or store it in the refrigerator in a clean container.
“Boiling kills harmful bacteria in the water that may cause illness. You should throw away ice made during the time the advisory or notice was issued, as freezing does not kill bacteria.
“Flushing water brings in fresh water from the main and boiling fresh water kills any bacteria and other organisms that can enter the water. You can also use bottled water. A frequently asked questions document for boiling water can be found on the www.pgh2o.com homepage.
“Impacted customers will be notified by PWSA via automated robocalls. Customers in this service area are being advised to flush their taps and then boil their fresh water to ensure that drinking water meets or exceeds all state and federal water quality requirements. The boil water advisory will remain in place until further notice. Customers with questions can go to our website homepage at www.pgh2o.com or call Customer Service at 412.255.2423. Representatives will be available until midnight tonight.”
For about two days in February, 100,000 people in Pittsburgh’s central and eastern neighborhoods were under a precautionary flush and boil advisory because of low-chlorine levels. Concerns over the waterborne illness Giardiasis were unfounded, as the bacteria wasn’t present, city officials said at the time.