Pittsburgh council seeks review after water issues

Associated Press


City Council wants the state to investigate the local water authority’s operations, including a former contract with a private corporation, in the wake of overbilling and water quality problems that included a boil-water advisory that affected 100,000 customers.

Pennsylvania Auditor General Eugene DePasquale said Friday he would do an audit, but the Pittsburgh Water & Sewer Authority must request it, not city council. The attorney general’s office doesn’t comment on investigations.

The city leases its water and sewer system to the quasi-governmental authority. The authority’s seven-member board is appointed by the mayor and approved by city council.

The city issued the boil-water advisory Tuesday as a precautionary measure at the direction of state environmental regulators after tests showed water drawn from city reservoirs didn’t have enough chlorine to meet state standards.

The advisory was lifted Thursday.

Mayor Bill Peduto said there was never any sign of harmful bacteria that can occur with the drop in chlorine levels.

He said the advisory actually amounted to a “technical” precaution, because other tests showed the city’s water was never unsafe. Among other things, the water never fell below federal levels for sufficient chlorine, which are less-stringent than Pennsylvania’s standards, Peduto said.

Authority Director Bernard Lindstrom said the utility is trying to determine whether faulty tests or a treatment-plant problem caused the below-standard chlorine readings. The city took its Highland Park reservoirs offline and flushed out the system to satisfy DEP concerns and lift the boil-water advisory.

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