Pittsburgh is experiencing its coldest January since 1977. These frigid days coinciding with warm spells have caused a rapid increase in water main breaks, damaged valves, and frozen pipes across PWSA’s water service area. PWSA crews and contractors have worked continuously over the past two weeks to repair breaks and restore service to customers as quickly as possible.
With a limited number of PWSA crews able to respond to the large volume of requests for repairs, contract crews are utilized to supplement day-to-day operational services like water main repairs, service line replacements, and leak investigations. On Tuesday, January 16 alone, four PWSA crews and ten contract crews were scheduled to meet demands. The ability to call upon these services aid the Authority in maintaining service and responding to complaints.
The increased crew size has allowed PWSA to repair well over 100 water mains and dozens of water service lines leading from the main to the home in the first two weeks of January. For comparison, PWSA repaired 66 water mains and 30 water service lines for the entire month of January last year. In the first 17 days of this month, PWSA emergency dispatch received 4,059 calls with an abandonment rate of just 6.7%. These reports from customers play a huge role in PWSA identifying and prioritizing its work.
“When temperatures rise and fall continuously, we see a freezing and thawing of the pipes and the soil around them – this results in a greater chance of cracked pipes, especially with older infrastructure, especially with infrastructure that is an average of 90-years old,” says Interim Executive Director Robert Weimar.
“With almost one thousand miles of water mains to maintain, this can be a monumental task. By prioritizing our workload on the basis of public safety, water service disruption, impact to traffic patterns, and water loss from the system, we can try to work through these requests for repair in the smartest and safest way possible.
Approximately 90 robocalls have been sent thus far to customers across the city to notify them of work on their block. Robocalls are the easiest and fastest way for PWSA to get in touch with customers to make them aware of outages. To update your contact info, you can visit PWSA’s homepage and click “Update Contact Info”. Outage information and street closures are also continuously shared on PWSA’s twitter, @pgh2o.
Crews and staff appreciate the public’s continued patience as we work to maintain our aging infrastructure in the midst of the winter weather.