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City Working To Reduce Lead Levels In Drinking Water

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- Mayor Bill Peduto is taking steps to reduce high lead levels in Pittsburgh's drinking water.

The city has raised $1 million in partnership with Peoples Gas and the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority (PWSA) to provide free filters to all homeowners within Pittsburgh's city limits.

The filters will first be given out to residents whose lines test at, or above, 10 parts per billion for lead, to people who live in areas where the PWSA will be replacing lead service lines this spring and to low-income residents.

Filters will also be installed in schools, community centers and senior centers.

Mayor Peduto says the city is working on permanent PWSA infrastructure upgrades, as well as other changes throughout the Authority.

"As we got through the transformation of our water system and a long-term need in order to address it, we also have short-term concerns to make sure all of our children are safe, all of our seniors are safe," said Mayor Peduto.

In the short term, the filters will help protect city residents from high levels of lead. Details about how to apply for a filter will be released within the coming weeks.

"This is Band-Aid on a solution that will take over a decade to solve, a decade of inadequate maintenance our infrastructure," he said.

In addition, Mayor Peduto is currently working with state legislators to try to amend the law so that the PWSA would be allowed to replace all the lead lines within the city, including those leading directly into residents' homes.

Currently, the law only allows the PWSA to replace old lead lines up to the border of a homeowner's property. After that, the lines leading into the home are the homeowners' responsibility.

The work can be costly, especially for families who are struggling financially.

The Urban Redevelopment Authority board is scheduled to vote on Thursday on a loan program that would help low-income homeowners replace the lead lines leading into their home.

Loans of up to $10,000 would be issued at a 3 percent interest for a term of up to 10 years.

Borrowers would be eligible for the program if they make below 120 percent of the area's median income. The plan still has to be approved.

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