PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- More than two dozen neighborhoods in the city of Pittsburgh are under a Flush and Boil Water Advisory until further notice.
The advisory was issued Tuesday evening due to problems that were discovered through testing done by the Department of Environmental Protection.
The order affects about 100,000 customers in the central and eastern sections of the city.
Bernard Lindstrom, the acting PWSA director, said, "The purpose of issuing the advisory was a precautionary measure. We want to make absolutely certain there's no chance anyone in our water system would be effected."
At a news conference Tuesday night, Lindstrom said he anticipates the advisory will be in effect no longer than three days. City leaders were working to have water buffaloes set up in multiple locations by Wednesday morning.
The DEP says recent tests were taken at one location near the Highland Park water filtration plant, and low levels of chlorine were discovered at one location. A DEP spokesperson said the problem was discovered through the agency's ongoing investigation into PWSA's water treatment practices.
The concern is over the possible presence of Giardia, a microscopic bacteria in the water supply which grow and multiply when drinking water is not disinfected properly.
KDKA's Dr. Maria Simbra Reports:
According to the state Department of Health, "Giardiasis is a protozoan infection which causes acute, diarrheal illness." Officials say symptoms typically begin within 10 days of exposure and include diarrhea, gas, greasy stool, abdominal/stomach cramps, nausea, vomiting, and potential dehydration. Other, less common symptoms, include itchy skin, hives, and swelling in the eyes or joints.
Health officials say children are most at risk for complications related to Giardiasis "as prolonged infection may lead to malnutrition and developmental delays in physical and mental growth."
For more information on Giardiasis, visit the state Health Department's website here.
The DEP has released this statement:
"Through an ongoing investigation into PWSA's treatment practices, DEP found that PWSA is not achieving adequate disinfection levels for Giardia in water distributed from the Highland Park facility. DEP noted that the disinfection processes and concentrations for water going into the distribution network are insufficient, and as such PWSA must alert customers to the breakdown in treatment and the need to boil water before consuming. A breakdown in treatment can lead to increased risk that the water may contain disease-causing organisms – it does not mean that there has been identified contamination. Customers are reminded to flush their systems by letting the tap run for several minutes before boiling to reduce possible exposure to lead."
KDKA's Andy Sheehan Reports:
Here are the areas affected in:
• Bedford Dwelling
• East Liberty
• Highland Park
• Hill District
• Point Breeze
• Polish Hill
• Regent Square
• Stanton Heights
• Squirrel Hill
• Swisshelm Park
• Terrace Village
Customers within the impacted area should do the following before using water for drinking, making ice, washing dishes, brushing teeth, and food preparation until further notice:
1.) Flush your water tap by running water for 1 minute or longer, then
2.) Boil water for 1 minute, and let it cool before consumption.
Customers impacted by the advisory were being notified by PWSA automated robocalls. The boil water advisory will remain in place until further notice.
"The health and safety of our residents and our customers is number one," said Lindstrom. "We are doing this to be super, super cautious. We're doing this as a completely precautionary measure because we realize in the wake of other water quality incidents across the nation, that we need to be sensitive, and if there's even a .01 percent chance, we're going to err on the side of caution here. So, yes, that is why we're issuing this notice. We would like people to take it seriously. Flush your lines just like we mentioned before, but more importantly, boil your water, and if you do that, you're assured you will have potable water to consume."
The PWSA says they have also notified critical medical and public safety institutions of their plans. They also say, on Wednesday, they will deliver bottled water to schools and the place of water buffaloes around the city.
The Pittsburgh Public School District has cancelled classes on Wednesday for 22 schools and two early childhood centers as a result of the advisory.
The list of schools include:
• Pittsburgh Allderdice
• Pittsburgh Arsenal PreK-5
• Pittsburgh Arsenal 6-8
• Pittsburgh Colfax
• Pittsburgh Dilworth
• Pittsburgh Faison
• Pittsburgh Fulton
• Pittsburgh Liberty
• Pittsburgh Lincoln
• Pittsburgh Linden
• Pittsburgh Greenfield
• Pittsburgh Miller
• Pittsburgh Minadeo
• Pittsburgh Milliones
• Pittsburgh Montessori
• Pittsburgh Obama
• Pittsburgh Peabody/Obama Early Childhood Center
• Pittsburgh Science and Technology
• Pittsburgh Frick Early Childhood Center
• Pittsburgh Sterrett
• Pittsburgh Sunnyside
• Pittsburgh Westinghouse
• Pittsburgh Weil
• Pittsburgh Woolslair
District officials say the closure will allow them time to properly cover water fountains, prepare food services and provide bottled water so schools are ready to open on Thursday if the advisory is still in effect.
Only administrators, custodians and food service staff are asked to report to those locations.
With fans packed into PPG Paints Arena for Tuesday night's Pittsburgh Penguins' game, the team says they shut off all public water drinking sources, including water fountains, soda fountains and ice machines, as a precaution.
Bottled water and soda were available to fans.
We issued a precautionary flush & boil water advisory due to Chlorine lvls in the Highland Park Reservoir.
We're working with DEP currently
— PGH Water & Sewer (@pgh2o) February 1, 2017
— PA American Water (@paamwater) February 1, 2017
Customers with questions can go to the PWSA website at www.pgh2o.com or call Customer Service at 412-255-2423.
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