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Free Lead Water Testing Not Always Available To Area Customers

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- It's the one thing we count on in the United States: clean water from our tap.

That water is usually provided by a municipal water authority or a private water company.

But the issue of lead in the water of Pittsburgh city residents has raised concerns everywhere.

"It's dangerous to children, and it's a serious issue right now," says Bob Christian, executive director of the West View Water Authority that services customers from McKees Rocks through the North Hills to Cranberry.

Christian says houses built before the mid-1980s are especially vulnerable.

That fact led Pennsylvania American Water Company to offer free testing -- at least to some.

"In the city of Pittsburgh, we're offering single family homes that were built before 1988 with lead service lines or copper plumbing with lead solder the opportunity to have sampling," PAWC spokesperson Greg Lobaugh told KDKA money editor Jon Delano on Tuesday.

But what about the rest of us?

"Right now this pilot program is purely limited to the city of Pittsburgh," says Lobaugh.

The Allegheny County Health Department recommends that all water suppliers provide free lead water testing to customers in their service areas, but because it's a recommendation, and not a requirement, most customers are left out on their own.

That includes most of PAWC's 675,000 water users and West View's 200,000 users.

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West View says it would cost a hundred bucks a house to test when those dollars could be better spent.

"To go out to all of our customers and provide lead testing, we're taking a more pro-active approach and looking to get the lead out of our system," notes Christian.

KDKA did find two local water suppliers who do provide free lead testing at the customer's request -- the Westmoreland Water Authority for its 400,000 users and the Hampton-Shaler Water Authority to its 24,000 customers.

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