Councilwoman calls on PWSA to provide water filters for customers amid lead concerns

PITTSBURGH — Pittsburgh City Councilwoman Theresa Kail Smith blasted the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority during a City Council meeting on Tuesday for its handling of elevated lead levels found in drinking water in some homes.

“I've had enough of the talking. I've had enough of hearing what they have to say, and I've had enough of the empty promises. It's time to deliver safe water for our residents,” Smith said.

She’s now calling on the PWSA to provide water filters for every customer.

“I really think that honestly the most immediate (thing that the) PWSA should be doing is they should be paying for these new filters for our community, for the entire city of Pittsburgh,” Smith said.

Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto told Target 11 that he’s working with the PWSA, some nonprofits and foundations in the city to come up with a plan to provide filters to homes that need them most.

“If we can put together something that puts each of those - the PWSA, city foundations and nonprofits - I think we will be able to address it in a more proactive way,” the mayor said.

PWSA’s director of engineering and construction said Tuesday that while the filters are a short-term fix, the agency is working to identify and replace lead lines. So far, about 20 percent of customers still have them.

In the meantime, the PWSA is urging customers to flush lines for two minutes before drinking the water and to take extra precautions if needed.

“We feel it's important that each person evaluate their own circumstances and make themselves as protected as possible and be aware and take precautions,” said Bob Weimar, of the PWSA.

Target 11 learned the water filters would cost anywhere between $35 and $75 each.

Smith also called for disbanding the entire water authority during Tuesday’s meeting.

Peduto told Target 11 that some big changes are on the way but would not elaborate.

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