Three weeks before the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority was ordered to tell 100,000 Pittsburghers to boil their water, dtpmp the state Department of Environmental Protection found that the authority made changes to its water treatment chemicals without approval from the state.
It was the second time in three years that unauthorized changes to treatment chemicals landed the PWSA in hot water. More bad news for the embattled authority could come as early as this morning, when Pittsburgh Controller Michael Lamb, accompanied by Pennsylvania Auditor General Eugene DePasquale, will release a performance audit of the region’s largest water supplier.
According to the DEP, on Jan. 6, state inspectors at the PWSA’s main treatment plant along the Allegheny River in Aspinwall found the facility was using ferric chloride and caustic soda as coagulating agents in place of lime because the lime feed equipment was not operational. The permit violation was noted in a DEP “field order” issued the same day and in a report dated Feb. 8 and sent to Bernard Lindstrom, the PWSA executive director.The DEP, in a written response to questions from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, said Wednesday that its ongoing investigation is looking at whether water quality or public health was put at risk due to the chemical change. It said it had not found any evidence of that to date.