Unsafe water plagues Playhouse

Written By Robert Berger, Co-Sports Editor

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While Point Park’s campus was excluded from last week’s flush and boil water advisory, the Pittsburgh Playhouse and Oakland residents were affected.

“We had to take precautionary measures,” Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto said at a press conference last Thursday. “At no time was your water ever in danger.”

The advisory went into effect last Monday by the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority (PWSA). After conducting tests at the Highland Park water filtration center, the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) called for the advisory.

Test results showed low chlorine levels. Students were notified of the advisory via emails sent by the physical plant, which included a message reassuring students that campus was not affected.

As the PWSA lifted the advisory Wednesday, physical plant workers flushed the water system of the Playhouse making the water safe to consume once again.

While systems were down, the Playhouse provided students and faculty with bottled water and placed signs notifying students not to drink from the tap. By Thursday, the Playhouse water was safe again.

According to a press release from the PWSA, flushing water brings in fresh water to the tap from the water main. Boiling fresh water kills bacteria and other organisms that can enter the water.

The initial testing done by the DEP was part of an ongoing investigation being conducted on the practices of the PWSA. The DEP originally expressed concern of the parasite Giardia living in the water, however, later tests revealed this was never a problem.

“We didn’t know exactly what the problem was,” said sophomore musical theatre major and Oakland resident Jeremy Spoljarick. “We just knew that there was a problem, which was the scary thing.”

According to the PWSA, about 100,000 customers were affected in central and eastern parts of the city. Twenty-two Pittsburgh public schools canceled classes and fifteen water distribution centers were opened for residents in affected neighborhoods.

According to a press release from the PWSA, the Highland Park system was the only plant affected by the advisory. Bernard Lindstrom, interim executive director of the PWSA, said Thursday in a press conference that the PWSA took a number of actions to solve the problem.

“We found no contaminants at all detected in our water system, but because we had a potential of insufficient disinfectant treatment it was prudent to issue this notice,” Lindstrom said on Thursday.

In the 12 hours after the advisory was put in effect, the PWSA tested water supplies throughout the city and increased the chlorine levels in the Pittsburgh water system. At the Highland Park system, the membrane filtration system was removed entirely.

In wake of the advisory, the Peduto administration plans on helping the PWSA in improving practices. Pittsburgh city council members are calling for an investigation on the PWSA.

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