Source Water Assessment Public Summary

Wilkinsburg-Penn Joint Water Authority PWSID 5020056

Allegheny River MP- 8.8, 001

May 2002


The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has conducted assessments of potential contaminant threats to the raw water quality of all public drinking water sources as required by the 1996 Safe Drinking Water Act. This Source Water Assessment Public Summary provides information to support local and state efforts to protect the raw water quality of Wilkinsburg-Penn Joint Water Authority’s drinking water source. The information in this assessment pertains to the watershed that provides raw water to Wilkinsburg-Penn Joint Water Authority which is then treated for drinking water use. The assessment pertains to “source” water, rather than “tap” water. Information on “tap” water quality is available in Wilkinsburg-Penn Joint Water Authority’s Consumer Confidence Report that can be obtained directly through the water supplier.

What is the Source of Your Drinking Water

Wilkinsburg-Penn Joint Water Authority provides water for Wilkinsburg, Penn Hills, Edgewood, Swissvale, North Braddock, Turtle Creek, Churchill, East Pittsburgh, and Forest Hills. The source of water for the Authority is surface water from the Allegheny River which is designated for the protection of Warm Water Fishes (WWF) from Plum Creek to it’s confluence with the Monongahela River. Because of the vast size of this watershed, there are many protected waters within it, most of which are protected for Cold Water Fishes. There are also many Exceptional Value streams within the Allegheny River watershed. The watershed encompasses approximately 11,600 square miles including 25 counties within Pennsylvania and New York. The Authority serves a population of approximately 250,000 and is permitted to withdraw 34.0 MGD (millions of gallons per day) from the river. The majority of the Allegheny River watershed is forested (65%) with large areas of agriculture (27%) and some pockets of urban or developed land (4%). Water storage, barren land, rangelands and wetlands comprise the remaining land usage.

Water Quality and Water Treatment Information

Water withdrawn for treatment at the purification plant is filtered and disinfected with chlorine prior to distribution to customers. Water quality testing performed by the Authority indicated that results of tap water sampling done in 2001 were acceptable. Additional information about treated water quality can be obtained from the Wilkinsburg-Penn Joint Water Authority’s Consumer Confidence Report.

PotentialSources of Contamination Contaminants of Concern Description Protection Priority
Transportation corridors, bridges Metals, turbidity, SOCs Road deicing and potential for spills along roads, bridges A
Boating, Marina, Barge traffic Petroleum products, coal, oil Accidental release/spill A
Auto repair shops, Truck or bus terminals MTBE, BTEX, Metals Disposal of products/ byproducts A
Utility substations Heavy metals, SOCs, VOCs Accidents near water source A
Combined Sewer Outfalls Pathogens, bacteria, viruses, nutrients Raw sewage entering water source A
Pipelines Oil, petroleum products Ruptures in the pipes A
Residential Developments, golf courses Nitrates/Nitrites, pathogens, VOCs, SOCs, nutrients, pesticides, herbicide Stormwater runoff, lawn care, on-lot waste disposal A

As indicated above, roads, bridges, boating, barge traffic, auto repair and truck terminals, utility substations, combined sewer outfalls, pipelines and runoff from non-point sources such as residential developments and golf courses are the most significant potential sources of contamination within the watersheds that contribute water to the Allegheny River intake. Roads and bridges receive a high ranking due to the locations (near streams and reservoirs) and possible release of a variety of substances from accidents. The boating permitted on the Allegheny River could yield cumulative amounts of petroleum products entering the source water in a short amount of time, as well as barge traffic which adds the potential for coal and oil contamination. Auto repair shops and truck terminals also pose a threat of releasing petroleum products such as BTEX and MTBE. Although pipeline ruptures seldom occur, these events have been some of the most significant causes of pollution in recent decades. The list includes storm water and CSO discharges in several of the surrounding communities. They were given an “A” ranking because of the large quantities of untreated water that can be conveyed through these systems. During the course of a storm, many contaminants can be picked up from industrial facilities and

streets. Pesticides and herbicides can come from golf courses, field croplands, and lawns. In addition, many communities have combined sewers that transport raw sewage with storm water that can result in raw sewage going directly into the river by way of a combined sewer overflow, (CSO) without treatment during heavy rain events.

Source Water Protection Needs

It has been determined that existing state and federal regulations should provide adequate protection of Wilkinsburg-Penn Joint Water Authority’s water source. Overall, the watershed contributing raw water to the purification plant has moderate risk of significant contamination. Many impaired waters exist within the watershed mainly due to agricultural practices and abandoned mine drainage. Should a group (watershed organization, water supplier, municipalities) implement a watershed protection plan, the focus should be placed on controlling stormwater runoff along transportation corridors near the streams leading to the intake and within the surrounding communities, including combined sewer overflows. Best Management Practices should be used to divert runoff from agricultural areas and abandoned mines away from streams, reservoirs and other waterways. Lastly, Best Management Practices for spill prevention and containment can reduce the threat of PCB exposure to the streams from utility substations. In the Wilkinsburg-Penn area, and at other locations along the Allegheny watershed, it is recommended that an organization be brought into effect to monitor the river, specifically regarding accidental spills and pollutant discharge. The organization can forewarn all water purveyors on the river of an upstream occurrence or accidental discharge, and thus protect the health and welfare of water users on the Allegheny River.