News Feature | February 3, 2017

Boil-Water Notice Hits 100,000 Pittsburgh Residents

Sara Jerome

By Sara Jerome,

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Officials issued a major water advisory in Pittsburgh, PA, this week, urging about 100,000 residents to boil their water.

In response to the notice, the city school district decided “to close 22 schools and two early childhood centers for Wednesday,” the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported.

Tests by Pennsylvania environmental workers revealed low chlorine levels in water at the Highland Park reservoir and distribution facility, the report said. The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection ordered the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority (PWSA) to issue the advisory.

“The low level of chlorine disinfectant could allow giardia, a microscopic parasite, to live in the water supply. Ingestion of giardia can result in an intestinal infection causing cramps, nausea and diarrhea, but no such illnesses attributable to the water supply had been reported,” Associated Press reported, citing the PWSA.

A press statement from PWSA, released on Tuesday, delineated how the utility plans to confront the situation:

Over the last 12 hours: 1. PWSA has taken the Highland Park microfiltration water treatment plant out of service to immediately address the Pennsylvania Department of Environment (DEP) concerns about inadequate chlorination. 2. The Authority installed new chlorination technology at the treatment plant in addition to automated sensors to provide accurate and consistent chlorine monitoring.

Over the next 24 hours, PWSA will: 1. Add chlorine in the Highland Park reservoir to address DEP requirements. 2. Continue water quality monitoring to assure we continue to meet safe drinking water standards. 3. Collaborate with DEP to aggressively respond to all DEP technical inquiries, to remove the flush and boil water advisory. 4. Keep the public informed of any developments.

By Wednesday evening, the utility decided to open fire hydrants to flush the system. “Pittsburgh officials say there's still no sign of contamination in the city's water supply, but some fire hydrants will be opened to help flush water from one city reservoir system that may not have been treated with sufficient chlorine,” the Associated Press reported.

PWSA Executive Director Bernard Lindstrom spoke to reporters at a press conference on Wednesday.

“We found no contaminants at all detected in our water system. But, since this is precautionary because we had the potential for insufficient disinfectant treatment at one location, it was prudent to issue this notice to assure public safety and there was minimal risk to public health,” Lindstrom said, per KDKA.

For similar stories visit Water Online’s Drinking Water Disinfection Solutions Center.

Image credit: "pittsburgh," john marino © 2011, used under an Attribution 2.0 Generic license: