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PAWC Customers Get Precautionary Boil Water Order

By Jason Togyer
The Tube City Almanac
November 06, 2017
Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

Above: Areas in red are affected by Monday's boil-water advisory. (Source: Pennsylvania-American Water Co.)

About 100,000 customers of Pennsylvania-American Water Co. in the Mon Valley, South Hills and Washington County were told Monday evening to boil their water before drinking or cooking with it.

Melissa Walters, a spokeswoman for the water company, said that technicians had noticed during routine testing that the water was unusually "turbid" --- cloudy or hazy-looking --- and were concerned that harmful bacteria might be present.

Turbidity is a key measurement of water safety, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

In a prepared release, Jefferson Hills police said Monday afternoon the cloudiness was related to "a serious (water) main break in Jefferson Hills late last week" causing a loss of water pressure in the system, but PAWC did not confirm that detail.

Jefferson Hills was one of the communities affected, along with Clairton, Dravosburg, Elizabeth, Elizabeth Twp., Forward Twp., Glassport, Liberty, Lincoln, and West Elizabeth, and much of Washington County.

South Allegheny School District has cancelled classes for Tuesday due to the water problem, a spokesperson said Monday night, though "12 month employees" should report for work as usual.

McKeesport, Port Vue and White Oak receive water service from the Municipal Authority of Westmoreland County and were not affected.

Customers living in the advisory area were urged to either use bottled water for cooking, drinking and brushing their teeth, Walters said, or to bring their water to a boil, let it boil for one minute and then let it cool before using.

Boiling kills bacteria and other organisms in the water, Walters said.

The cloudiness alone is not harmful, Walters said, but the water company is concerned that "turbidity" can interfere with the water purification process and allow bacteria or viruses to grow.

Pennsylvania-American was draining storage tanks and doing additional tests Monday night and hoped to resolve the problem quickly, Walters said.

Customers who need additional information should call the water company's customer service center at 1-800-565-7292, she said.

The utility announced late Monday night that water tankers had been put in place in five locations:

  • Bethel Park Community Center: 5151 Park Ave.
  • Jefferson Hills Police Department: 925 Old Clairton Road
  • South Fayette Twp. Library: 515 Millers Run Road
  • South Park Twp. Library: 2575 Brownsville Road
  • Upper St. Clair Community & Recreation Center: 1551 Mayview Road

Customers should bring their own containers when visiting a tanker for drinking water, a spokesperson said. Additional water tanker sites were to be announced.

Originally published November 06, 2017.

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