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PWSA To Stand Trial On Charges It Violated Pa. Safe Drinking Water Act

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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- The Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority will stand trial on charges it violated the state's safe drinking water act.

In February, Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro filed more than 150 criminal counts against the PWSA.

"The Water and Sewer Authority failed in its duty to notify Pittsburgh residents that it was replacing lead surface lines, putting them at risk to consume lead in their drinking water," Shapiro said.

Shapiro said the agency did not replace lead lines as required, failed to notify residents when it did make replacements and did not take and analyze the lead content of the new lines within 72 hours.

"Those failures are criminal violations. Pennsylvanians have a constitutional right to clear air and pure water," Shapiro said.

The Attorney General insisted it was the agency alone that engaged in a criminal violation against the state of Pennsylvania, but no individual was found to be criminally liable.

"The Authority is being charged alone because during our investigation, we found no evidence of any one or single person or persons intending to harm any users of the water system," Shapiro said.

At Wednesday's preliminary hearing, 11 of the 161 original counts were dropped, but the PWSA still faces 150 counts. Each one could cost the PWSA anywhere from $1,200 to $12,000 in fines under state rules.

The PWSA has said any fines "would only divert ratepayer dollars that would otherwise be used for critical water quality improvement projects and programs."

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