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PA Water: pipe up about your pipes

Pennsylvania American Water is asking customers to ‘pipe up’ on their service line material.

The company is looking to identify and eliminate lead lines and some galvanized lines.

“Pennsylvania American Water wants to get rid of lead water lines – but to do so, will need your help,” according to Senior Manager for Government and External Affairs in Western Pennsylvania Gary Lobaugh.

Pennsylvania American “has reached the customer information-gathering phase of its statewide service line material inventory project and is asking customers to ‘pipe up’ and tell the company what their water service lines are made of,” Lobaugh said. “Using this data, the company will publish a public-facing online map of service line material types and locations by October 2024, with the goal of ultimately removing identified lead and certain galvanized water lines from service.”

Some customers have already received or will receive postcards.

“Starting the week of Jan. 30, customers whose service line material is unknown to Pennsylvania American Water will be sent a postcard in the mail with information on how to participate in this important identification effort,” Lobaugh said. “Customers can respond on the website featured on the postcard or by calling the number provided, which goes directly to the company’s project management firm, Greeley and Hansen.”

The postcards include contact information – QR codes, a website, and a phone number – by which customers may submit their information.

Customers will be asked to answer a few questions about their water service line. Those who are able will be asked to upload a photo.

“Determining what material every customer’s service line is made of – including the lines owned by them and not just by us – is a massive undertaking, and we’re asking our customers to take this request seriously and please respond so we can take action accordingly,” Pennsylvania American Water President Justin Ladner said. “Although our company is in compliance with lead action levels in water due to our effective treatment controls, we believe that identifying and ultimately removing lead lines from service is the right thing to do for the health, safety and peace of mind of our customers.”

The service line connects the house or building to the water main in the street. It is typically less than two inches in diameter.

The lines can be made of copper, galvanized steel, iron, plastic, and lead.

The property owner and PAW share ownership of the service line – the company owns the part from the main to the curb, while the customer owns the part from the curb into the building.

“The project is driven by EPA regulations that require water utilities to identify and publicly map lead service lines, which, for many utilities, will be the first step toward a proactive lead service line replacement program,” Lobaugh said. “Pennsylvania American Water already has a robust lead service line replacement program and has replaced more than 250 lead service lines to date. The company plans to invest approximately $15 million in 2023 to replace lead service lines, and the program will continue into future years.”

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