Dozens of Allegheny County municipalities are facing a water crisis. Water and sewage systems across the county violate the Department of Health requirements for lead levels as well as other regulations for ensuring that citizens have safe water to drink. Aging water and sewage systems in the area, especially those in underserved communities, are the root of the problem; but property owners must also evaluate the plumbing and water on their property in response to new policies and regulations. Funding availability for smaller municipalities is a major barrier to fixing these problems.
What Does This Mean For You?
Anyone living in Allegheny County should be aware of the issues surrounding our water system. Engaged citizens have the power to speak up and voice concerns. Students often live in temporary rental housing that may not be up-to-date on plumbing and water safety measures. Health effects of unsafe water can impact everyone, not just vulnerable populations. Not all water and sewage problems are easily noticeable, but being informed will help you know when to test your water, how to report problems, and how to get involved to protect and improve our water.
Raising Awareness And Getting Involved
Putting pressure on policymakers by demanding safe water access and system improvements is effective. You don’t have to live in a specific borough to speak up about water issues you know of or have seen. Everyone can take steps to raise awareness and get involved. Continue reading for ideas and to find local organizations that are working on campaigns you can volunteer to help with.
Individual Action Steps
- Get a water test kit and test your water, click here for a free lead test.
- Report strange odors, colors, or taste in your drinking water to the Bureau of Safe Drinking Water.
- Demand that the Pittsburgh City Council support and fund clean and safe water efforts.
- Be mindful of leaks you might notice at home or in the city, and report them to the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority.
- Report water pollution.
- If you rent your residence, hold property owners accountable for safe plumbing and water.
- Inform people who may not have access to the same wealth of information as you do.
- Use a water bottle with a built-in filter to save money and avoid plastic waste.
Four Great Organizations To Get Involved With
Clean Water Action operates in several states, including Pennsylvania. You can volunteer to help with attending and planning events, lobbying elected officials, data entry, research, and other activities. (list a few events that people may want to attend)
Three Rivers Waterkeeper is focused on the Three Rivers in Pittsburgh. They patrol the rivers, review permits, support community education, monitor water quality, and push policymakers to defend our right to safe water. They require a volunteer competency test, but it is a rewarding experience to be part of the volunteer team. Additional details are not available at this time as their website undergoes construction.
Our Water Campaign is a coalition of several organizations in Pittsburgh that fight for safe water. They include Pittsburgh United, Clean Water Action, Pennsylvania Interfaith Impact Network, Sierra Club, the Hill District Consensus Group, Nine Mile Run Watershed, Penn Future, Thomas Merton Center, and One Pennsylvania. Backed by strong voices and organizations, it is an effective campaign that needs more voices.
Nine Mile Run Watershed Association leads water-protection efforts in the area, and you can get involved in several ways. You can support the organization by donating, planting a tree, and choosing them as the nonprofit for Amazon Smile purchases. You can advocate, volunteer, educate, and stay connected through social media and newsletters.