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The Globe’s Point – Water issues linger on for some

Written By Editorial Board

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For Point Park students living off campus, the week before last meant a mad rush to the nearest CVS to buy gallons of water for cooking and cleaning purposes when the advisory from the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority went into effect.

Students living specifically in the Oakland area were advised to “flush and boil” their water — deemed unfit for drinking and use.

Just when you thought the Pittsburgh water problem was over, the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a public letter severely criticizing Pennsylvania’s system of water monitoring.

And despite improvements in the control over water pollution, the quality of water still remains a critical matter.

Awareness of poor water quality rose to national attention last year with the crisis in Flint, Mich. And just last month, 100,000 Pittsburgh residents were affected by the flush and boil advisory. Now, we’ve been given a letter criticizing the way the state monitors water.

According to the EPA, budget cuts are the reason behind staffing reductions of more than 20 percent at the Bureau of Safe Drinking Water in the state Department of Environmental Protection. According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, it’s because of these budget cuts that the average number of water system inspections in the state of Pennsylvania have gone down consistently.

In the letter, EPA Water Protection Division Director Jon Capacasa wrote, “Pennsylvania’s drinking water program failed to meet the federal requirement for onsite review of of water system operations and maintenance capability, also known as a sanitary survey.

Not completing sanitary survey inspections in a timely manner can have serious public health implications.”

Don’t panic — the EPA points out that they have not identified any health risks for Pennsylvania residents — but instead issued the letter as a warning and prevention of a potential emergency.

Despite other states within our region having reduced their water system inspection staffs, we are the only state to personally receive a letter specifying areas of needed improvement, as well as a written action plan for advancement. Remain calm and be safe wth the consumption of your water and look out for any other alerts.

Is it going to take a catastrophe the size of Flint in order to make our department heads take action and stay diligent? We hope not.

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