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Preliminary test results indicate that drinking water in the city’s Lower 10th Ward is not contaminated with firefighting chemicals, a spokesman said.
However, another round of testing will be necessary before a “do not drink” advisory is lifted, said Matt Junker, spokesman for the Municipal Authority of Westmoreland County.
In the meantime, customers are being urged not to use their tap water for anything except flushing toilets — that includes not using the water for showers and bathing.
On Wednesday afternoon, McKeesport Mayor Michael Cherepko announced that shuttle buses will be available, beginning Thursday morning, to take residents to McKeesport Area High School if they want to use the showers there.
Since Monday, the high school has opened the showers to 10th Ward residents between the hours of 6 a.m. and 8 p.m.
Cherepko said buses will run hourly from 9 a.m. to 12 noon, and then from 3 to 7 p.m. Residents should pick up any 10th Ward resident who is waiting for the bus, anywhere along Atlantic Avenue, precisely at 9, 10 and 11 a.m., and again at 3, 4, 5 and 6 p.m., the mayor said.
Any children who are going to the high school to shower must be accompanied by an adult, Cherepko said.
The busing was arranged through Student Transportation Inc., he said.
On Friday evening, power lines fell onto McKeesport Auto Body Inc. on Rebecca Street, eventually sparking an intense fire that burned for hours and was fought by city fire crews and volunteers from throughout Allegheny and Westmoreland counties.
Saturday morning, the water authority reported that there were concerns that firefighting foam may have accidentally been sucked into a fire hydrant. The advisory affects residents of 10th Ward who live between the CSX Railroad tracks and the Monongahela River, as well as some houses on Romine, Arlington, Rebecca and West Sixth avenues.
The water authority began flushing the system in the 10th Ward on Saturday and preliminary test results on Tuesday indicated no firefighting chemicals were present, Junker said.
Additional samples were taken Wednesday and were driven to an accredited lab in Lancaster to speed testing and receipt of results, he said.
The flushing and testing process was recommended by state Department of Environmental Protection officials, Junker said.
MAWC is sampling water throughout the Lower 10th Ward area, he said. If a MAWC employee visits your premises, please ask to see identification before you allow anyone into your home, Junker said.
At homes where no one is available, he said, the water authority will leave instructions on how to take a water sample.
Drinking water tankers — water buffaloes — are stationed on Atlantic Avenue at the sewage plant, the intersection with Perry Street, and at R & W Oil.
Bottled water is available on a first-come, first-served basis at the fire department, corner of Market and Lysle. Residents who are disabled, unable to drive or who are shut-in may arrange delivery of bottled water by calling the McKeesport Fire Department at (412) 675-5021.
Originally published July 21, 2021.