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Boil-Water Advisory Could Be Lifted Tomorrow

Water authority offers new details of Saturday pump failure

By Staff Reports
The Tube City Almanac
October 15, 2019
Posted in: McKeesport and Region News, White Oak News

Municipal Authority of Westmoreland County's McKeesport Water Treatment Plant (photo courtesy MAWC)

A boil-water advisory for about 16,000 customers in McKeesport, Port Vue, Versailles and White Oak could be lifted on Wednesday.

Matt Junker, spokesman for the Municipal Authority of Westmoreland County, said the first round of testing on water from the McKeesport Water Treatment Plant was clear of any hazards.

"We are hopeful that the advisory can be lifted Wednesday after a second round of good results," Junker said Tuesday.

The authority also provided additional details of the incident on Saturday evening that forced the plant to be shut down, causing a loss of water pressure in parts of the McKeesport area and leading to the boil-water advisory.

Junker said a 10 million gallons-per-day intake pump that draws water from the Youghiogheny River failed, causing the building to be flooded.

The flooding had to be pumped out before repairs could begin.

A backup 10 million gallons-per-day pump at the plant was being rebuilt and was offline, he said, but crews were able to use the electric motor from the first pump to get the second pump into service.

Both pumps are scheduled for replacement under the $2.1 million capital improvement plan announced in June 2018 by the water authority, Junker said.

As water levels in the system's storage tanks dropped, some areas were left without water, he said, and other neighborhoods experience low water pressure.

Per state Department of Environmental Protection regulations, a loss of water pressure calls for a precautionary boil-water advisory, Junker said.

Tests on the water must be perfomed 24 hours apart, and there must be two clear tests before the advisory can be lifted, he said. Test results are expected Wednesday.

What does a 'boil-water advisory' mean?

A boil-water advisory means that tap water should not be used for:

making ice
washing dishes
brushing teeth or

without being boiled first for at least one minute, and then being allowed to cool.

Bottled water also may be used instead.

The water may be used for cleaning, aside from washing dishes.

General guidelines are available from the EPA's Safe Drinking Water Hotline at (800) 426-4791.

Some customers reported that they have not been receiving telephone updates from the water authority.

Junker said residents who did not receive a phone call on Saturday or Sunday about the boil-water advisory should call the authority at (724) 755-5800 to make sure they have an emergency number on file.

Account holders also can submit changes on line at the authority's website.

Renters should ask their landlords to place an emergency number on file, he said.

The water authority will issue updates by phone, social media and via news media when the boil-water advisory is lifted, Junker said.

Originally published October 15, 2019.

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