Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

State to Be Responsible for Safety of County Drinking Water

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

State to Be Responsible for Safety of County Drinking Water

Article excerpt

The state Department of Environmental Protection is taking over inspection responsibilities from the Allegheny County Health Department for 66 public drinking water systems.

The change in oversight is effective Feb. 1, and the DEP said it has added experts assigned exclusively to the county's public water systems.

The state and the county health department have shared safe drinking water program responsibilities in Allegheny County since the mid-1980s.

The DEP will conduct full, federally mandated, water system inspections every three years, a requirement now handled by the county. The state also will continue its existing drinking water permitting and enforcement programs.

"We see it as we have the ability with our permitting and compliance staff in place and are familiar with the systems, so we won't be starting from scratch," said Lauren Fraley, a DEP spokeswoman.

Ms. Fraley said the switch in regulatory responsibility was not linked to lead contamination problems or boil water advisories the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority has faced in recent years. The DEP now also will have full oversight of the city system.

DEP Southwest Regional Director Ron Schwartz said the decision to make the water program changes "reinforces our commitment to safe drinking water. …

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