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Timeline: Lead levels in Pittsburgh water

PITTSBURGH — The city of Pittsburgh has partnered with Peoples Gas and the Pittsburgh Water & Sewer Authority to provide PWSA customers with filters to reduce high lead levels in drinking water, Mayor William Peduto announced Wednesday.

This is a timeline of events leading to the announcement:

April 2014: PWSA changes the chemical it uses in its pipes to "costic soda" but does not tell customers or the Department of Environmental Protection.

January 24, 2016: PWSA announces a rise in lead levels over the last 10 years, and a plan to begin using "soda ash correlate" to make the water in pipes less corrosive

January 28, 2016: Lead test requests from customers begin to skyrocket

April 25, 2016: DEP issues administrative order citing PWSA for changing system without clearance (the citation is for the April 2014 change). Because of this, the PWSA is required to do two rounds of lead monitoring and investigate lead levels within the system

DEP cites Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority for unapproved water treatment change (4/25/16)

July 1, 2016: PWSA begins lead testing, and releases last round of results showing levels of 14.8 – just below EPA threshold. When those numbers originally came in, PWSA failed to tell anyone.

July 12, 2016: DEP requires PWSA to control lead after initial results from 100 sites are higher than expected

July 27, 2016: Ken Griffin hired as head of PWSA

July 28, 2016: Revelation that Griffin was fired from previous job in South Carolina for personnel reasons

New PWSA director withdraws from position; employment history in question (8/2/16)

August 2, 2016: Griffin quits

August 3, 2016: More info on lead samples comes in: 17 in Brighton Heights were above safety standards, (4 were at least 3x above)

August 4, 2016: A professor on the Flint water crisis research team calls lead levels in Pittsburgh 'worrisome.' Channel 11 News learned the PWSA is doing an analysis of joint water lines across the city, mapping out where they are and, in some cases, putting cameras underground to find them.

Professor on Flint water crisis research team calls lead levels in Pittsburgh ‘worrisome' (8/4/16)

September 1, 2016: Bernard Lindstrom named new PWSA executive director

September 21, 2016: 11 Investigates finds out that PWSA is delayed in mapping out pipes because records are all 90 years old

PWSA sorting through 200,000+ paper records to find lead water lines (9/21/16)

October 12, 2016: PWSA files lawsuit against management company – blaming it for the April 2014 chemical change/mixup

December 19, 2016: Allegheny County controller releases audit showing health department needs to take an active role in the lead oversight

11 Investigates: Data shows water in certain Pittsburgh neighborhoods tested more often than others (12/20/16)

January 20, 2017: Report from December round of testing finds lead levels dropping, but still above desired levels (when compared to June)

January 24, 2017: Pittsburgh City Council blast PWSA for handling of lead levels. Theresa Kail Smith asks PWSA to provide filters to all customers

Councilwoman calls on PWSA to provide water filters for customers amid lead concerns (1/24/17)

January 27 2017: PWSA announces lead replacement project goal of replacing 1,500 lead service lines by the end of June

PWSA plans multimillion-dollar project to fix lead issues (1/27/17)

February 1, 2017: Theresa Kail Smith asks for attorney general and auditor general investigation into PWSA

February 3, 2017: Mayor requests to hire financial and legal advisory team to look at PWSA

February 24, 2017: PWSA customers create "our water campaign" asking for a public oversight committee

March 8, 2017: PWSA customers to receive filters to reduce lead levels in drinking water

March 24, 2017: PWSA employees express their concern about the leadership, which prompts the mayor's chief of staff to respond. Mayor Peduto also announces he will replace three PWSA board members.

March 28, 2017: Allegheny County Controller Chelsa Wagner demands that Pittsburgh leadership take action to address elevated lead levels in city water, which she called a "public health crisis."

April 25, 2017: An advisory team is assembled to oversee possible restructuring of the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority.

May 4, 2017: The Allegheny County Board of Health approves mandatory lead testing for children.

May 8, 2017: 

Lead pipes are replaced in several neighborhoods, including Mount Washington and Beltzhoover.

May 31, 2017: A state lawmaker introduces legislation to clarify state law, which prevents the PWSA from replacing private water lines, even if they contain lead.

June 2, 2017: The PWSA halts the replacement of water lines after finding that lead levels are increasing.

June 13, 2017: Mayor Bill Peduto files new legislation for lead pipe replacement.

July 18, 2017: New testing by PWSA shows lead levels are dropping.

July 19, 2017: The The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection prepares to cite Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority for failing to replace the required amount of lead service lines by the June 30 deadline, according to the PWSA Interim Director Robert Weimar.

July 26, 2017: Allegheny County's controller criticizes the Allegheny County Health Department, accusing them of downplaying the dangers of lead contamination in Pittsburgh's water supply.

September 3, 2017: The company that previously ran PWSA speaks exclusively to Target 11 about the controversial chemical switch that led to higher lead levels in Pittsburgh's water.

September 27, 2017: A pilot program tests six homes in the Hill District, using a technology called ePipe. Pipe Restoration Technologies did not charge PWSA to show them how the program works.

January 22, 2018: A report is released, saying lead levels in Pittsburgh water have actually increased despite a growing awareness of the threat to residents. The new data is not what Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority wanted to hear – up until this latest round of testing, it appeared lead levels in Pittsburgh's drinking water were going down.

February 12, 2018: New PWSA leadership says it is dedicated to transparency and righting the ship.

May 3, 2018: Are there lead service lines in your area? PWSA releases interactive map.

May 18, 2018: Pittsburgh officials receive approval from the state to add a chemical to its water supply to help reduce lead contamination.

May 19, 2018: The state fines PWSA $50,000 for chlorinated water releases.

June 26, 2018: By the end of the week, the PWSA will have replaced 1,341 lead service lines since June 2017, the number mandated by the DEP after tests repeatedly showed elevated levels of lead in the city's drinking water.

July 25, 2018: PWSA water tests show the lowest lead levels in eight years.

August 29, 2018: Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority customers could see a stormwater fee added to their water bills in the near future.

October 19, 2018: PWSA receives nearly $50 million from the state to replace lead pipes across the city.

February 1, 2019: Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro filed 161 criminal charges against the PWSA for violating the Safe Drinking Water Act.

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