Friday, July 15, 2016

What you need to know about Pittsburgh news this week

Posted By on Fri, Jul 15, 2016 at 3:39 PM

What's happening in Pittsburgh news:

  • CP photo by Aaron Warnick
1. Bernie Sanders' endorsement of Hillary Clinton this week brought the two camps of local delegates together on Pittsburgh's South Side Wednesday night. Braddock Mayor John Fetterman, who ran in (and lost) Pennsylvania's Democratic U.S. Senate primary, and who had endorsed Sen. Sanders, is now throwing his support to Clinton. “There’s far too much at stake to have hurt feelings,” he told the crowd.


  • CP photo by Ryan Deto
2. The Pennsylvania Interfaith Impact Network, a coalition of faith leaders, convened this week to discuss the issue of racism in policing. The meeting was spurred by the killings of Alton Sterling, in Louisiana, and Philando Castile, in Minnesota. “If our police are the best trained in the world, but we fail to deal with basic racism and the adversity of people of color ... our black people are arrested, locked up, and the worst possible outcome, killed,” said the Rev. Rodney Lyde, president of the organization. PIIN will hold a community meeting on July 21, at 7 p.m., at the St. James AME Church in Larimer.


  • CP photo by Ryan Deto
3. Steelers greats Jerome Bettis and Hines Ward endorsed two new Kraft-Heinz pickle flavors ahead of this weekend's Picklesburgh festival being held on the Rachel Carson Bridge (Ninth Street Bridge). The flavors: Spicy Garlic and Sweet and Spicy. Taste for yourself at the festival where both flavors will be available to try.


4. The Allegheny County Board of Health decided this week not to move forward with mandating the HPV vaccine for kids entering the seventh grade. Since a June 22 public forum on the idea, the board has received 1,100 comments — 641 in support, 510 in opposition — making it one of the most-commented-on issues the board's ever discussed. Parents who say their kids have suffered injuries and illness after receiving vaccines came out in force against the idea, while board member Dr. Donald Burke, who's spent his life developing vaccines, said "I've watched them work over the years." 


  • CP photo by Ryan Deto
5. Immigrants are economically punching above their weight in Allegheny County, said officials at a press conference earlier this week. “A resurgence in our economy that is being fueled by people coming from other countries,” Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto told attendees. According to figures presented, immigrants in Allegheny County contributed $217 million in state and local taxes in 2014 and had a spending power of $1.8 billion that year.


This week on Sound Bite:

Sound Bite takes flight with the YMCA garden program and Neighborhood Nestwatch Pittsburgh to learn about urban bird populations. To hear more of our food-for-your-ears podcasts, visit our Sound Bite page.


  • CP photo by Dave DiCello

Hot off the presses (and in digital):

Our writers take you around the city in our 2016 City Guide, offering personal advice from where to find homemade ice cream and honey wine, buy used vinyl, get an edgy tattoo or check out punk shows. As CP editor Charlie Deitch writes in his intro to the guide, "When you see these recommendations, know that these are places we ourselves go — places we take our friends and family to."


This week in City Paper history:

  • CP file photo by Lauren Daley

On May 4, 2011, frequent Pittsburgh City Council critic Yvonne F. Brown surprised everyone in council chambers when she hauled a cat out of her bag and presented it to Councilor Bruce Kraus. While Brown wasn’t much of a fan of Kraus (still isn’t, in fact) as a representative, she knew he was a cat-lover because he once asked Brown, “Why do you hate cats and dogs?” But when a neighbor could no longer keep the cat, Brown brought it to Kraus. Brown told city council: “This is to build a bridge between [Kraus] and me. … I don’t know how good of a council person he is, but he has a heart.” Read more to find out what happened to the cat, and to learn more about what happened this week in CP history.

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Thursday, July 14, 2016

Pittsburgh Steelers greats Bettis and Ward in town to promote Picklesburgh

Posted By on Thu, Jul 14, 2016 at 11:52 AM

Jerome Bettis sampling a pickle chip - PHOTO BY RYAN DETO
  • Photo by Ryan Deto
  • Jerome Bettis sampling a pickle chip
The friendly rivalry between Pittsburgh Steelers legends Jerome Bettis and Hines Ward goes well beyond the football field. In fact, it even extends to pickles.

The two gridiron heroes were at Heinz Field July 13 to promote the 2nd annual Picklesburgh event, that will shut down the Rachel Carson Bridge June 15 and 16 to celebrate all things pickle. Kraft-Heinz, the food giant best known for its ketchup condiments, announced two new pickle flavors today: Spicy Garlic and Sweet and Spicy, which will be available to sample at the pickle party. It has been over 50 years since Kraft-Heinz have introduced new pickle flavors.

Bettis, who was championing the Sweet and Spicy flavor, and Ward, who was supporting the Spicy Garlic flavor, couldn’t help jesting whose would become more popular.

“I am gonna love this competition, there is nothing like beating my mentor,” said Ward. 
Hines Ward jokes with his former teammate about whose pickles people will like best - PHOTO BY RYAN DETO
  • Photo by Ryan Deto
  • Hines Ward jokes with his former teammate about whose pickles people will like best

The two praised the flavors of their pickles, and then proceeded to joke about each other's hair. “Ward is the only hairless diva in the world,” said Bettis. Plenty of pickle puns were also uttered, but City Paper will spare you the minor annoyance.

The two even engaged in an impromptu pickle-juice chug of their respective jars, emulating Picklesburgh’s most popular event. (Ward came out the victor.)

Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto was on hand as well to showcase how quickly Picklesburgh has risen in popularity. “There is something so quintessential Pittsburgh about pickles on a bridge,” said Peduto.

Picklesburgh will be held on the Rachel Carson Bridge (Ninth Street Bridge) for extended hours this year, from noon to 10 p.m. on both Fri., June 15, and Sat., June 16. More than 40 food vendors will be on hand, and live music and pickling demonstrations are part of the entertainment.

“Last year, the number-one suggestion we heard was more pickles with more variety,” said Jeremy Waldrup, of the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership in a press release. “This year we really worked with our vendors to up their pickle provisions, and I don’t think they’ve let us down.”

Ward wrapped up the theme of the event nicely, when he said it was not about the Most Valuable Player, but instead about the Most Valuable Pickle.

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Pittsburgh’s Inaugural Homewood-Brushton Self-Guided Arts and Culture Tour this Saturday

Posted By on Thu, Jul 14, 2016 at 11:42 AM


Cultural treasures past and present are the focus of this free neighborhood tour, which takes place in conjunction with this year’s Harambee Black Arts Festival.

After picking up your tour map at the festival’s registration table (located on Kelly Street between North Lang and North Homewood avenues), head out to see sites associated with pianist and composer Billy Strayhorn, photographer Charles “Teenie” Harris, pioneering black supermodel Naomi Sims, jazz musician Erroll Garner and more. All these luminaries lived, worked or played in Homewood.

Architectural landmarks include Mystery Manor, home to the National Negro Opera Company (the nation’s first African-American opera troupe), and the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh — Homewood.

The tour is presented by Operation Better Block, Inc., and the Homewood-Brushton Business Association and Homewood Artist Residency. Organizers include historian and author John Brewer, Jr., Operation Better Block’s Demi Kolke, art historian Kilolo Luckett, and the HBBA’s Diane Turner.

Free transportation is available for seniors and those with physical disabilities. For more information, see here.

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Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Pittsburgh faith leaders to hold community hearing to discuss action and Black Lives Matter

Posted By on Wed, Jul 13, 2016 at 5:02 PM

Rev. Rodney Lyde speaks at the Pittsburgh Interfaith Impact Network about race and police. - PHOTO BY RYAN DETO
  • Photo by Ryan Deto
  • Rev. Rodney Lyde speaks at the Pittsburgh Interfaith Impact Network about race and police.

On June 12, a coalition of faith leaders convened to lament the recent shootings of two black men by police officers and the killings of the five police officers in Dallas, during a Black Lives Matters protest. The Rev. Rodney Lyde, president of Pennsylvania Interfaith Impact Network, says he is deeply saddened by all the killings, but is calling for a move that goes beyond protesting.

“This is a time for above and beyond,” said Lyde. “If our police are the best trained in the world, but we fail to deal with basic racism and the adversity of people of color ... our black people are arrested, locked up, and the worst possible outcome, killed.”

Alton Sterling, of Louisiana, was shot and killed by police officers after he was confronted for selling CDs on the street. Philandro Castile, of Minnesota, was shot by a police officer while alledgedly reaching for his wallet while being pulled over for a broken tail light. Pittsburgh activists marched through Downtown on June 9 to protest the killings.

Lyde said that police-community relations, or lack thereof, are not the sole cause of all the tensions and shootings of African Americans. PIIN has been involved in other social-justice fights in Pittsburgh, including faith leaders that were arrested outside of the UPMC Steel Tower after protesting the right for workers to form a union. He applauded the effort forged between PIIN and Pittsburgh Police to have officers trained in implicit bias but says that there is much more to accomplish to deal with the root causes of “structural racism.”

“That is where see the manifestation,” said Lyde. “In the lack of affordable housing, the disparity in education, and there are not enough family-sustaining jobs.”

Dave Swanson of PIIN and pastor of Pittsburgh Mennonite Church in Swissvale concurred with Lyde’s sentiments and said that perceptions need to be changed before positive progress occurs. “As long as black bodies and black lives are viewed as lesser, this will continue,” said Swanson.

The Rev. De Neice Welsh of PIIN announced that in response to the recent killings, PIIN will hold a community meeting on July 21, at 7 p.m., at the St. James AME Church in Larimer. Welsh said that topics will include economic inequality, loss of community resources, and self-hatred in minority communities.

“We see to convene this forum to seek justice,” said Welsh. “We believe faith should be at the center of the work going forward.”

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Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Immigrant population providing a boost to Pittsburgh economy, say officials

Posted By on Tue, Jul 12, 2016 at 5:34 PM

Adnan Hilton Pehlivan, owner of Mediterranean restaurant Istanbul Sofra, speaks at a press conference about positive economic contributions of immigrants. - PHOTO BY RYAN DETO
  • Photo by Ryan Deto
  • Adnan Hilton Pehlivan, owner of Mediterranean restaurant Istanbul Sofra, speaks at a press conference about positive economic contributions of immigrants.
In Allegheny County, immigrant groups are economically punching above their weight. A new study from the Partnership for a New American Economy, shows that 7.6 percent of the county’s gross domestic product comes from immigrants, even though foreign-born individuals only make up around 5 percent of the population.

That discrepancy is why public officials like Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto and Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald are praising the contributions immigrants are bringing to the region.

“It is not just the welcoming heart of the city, it is the economic growth of the region that is the biggest beneficiary,” Peduto said at a press conference on June 12. “A resurgence in our economy that is being fueled by people coming from other countries.”
Peduto says that immigrants in Allegheny County contributed $217 million in state and local taxes in 2014 and  had a spending power of $1.8 billion that year. (This makes up 6.3 percent of the county’s spending power, which is also above the percentage of the county’s immigrant population.)

“It’s great that we have been able to capture some of the data that a lot of us knew empirically about how important the immigrant population has been over the last few years, has been to our economy and quality of life,” Fitzgerald said at the press conference Downtown.

Fitzgerald said in a five-year period, starting in 2009, property values nationally were declining, but in Allegheny County, the values were increasing, with a big boost from immigrants. He also pointed to the study for showing that while the Pittsburgh region’s population slightly declined since 2009, the foreign-born population increased by 8 percent.

“When you look at the contribution that the immigrant population has helped in stemming population decline, improving property values, that contribution that they have meant to our economy is tremendous,” said Fitzgerald.

Peduto said that immigrants are “building a new economy” in the city. Their rates of entrepreneurship are higher than U.S.-born residents in Allegheny County, and are also higher than the national average.

The study also shows that Pittsburgh immigrants have higher educational rates than average, but Betty Cruz of Peduto’s Welcoming Pittsburgh initiative tells City Paper that low-income residents were contributing to the growth too. She says the $217 million in taxes were contributed from “across the board” and not just from wealthier immigrants.

Cruz says immigrants from all backgrounds have contributed positively to “main street” economies like Asian immigrants in Squirrel Hill and Latinos in Beechview.

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Pittsburgh celebrates bicentennial with parade of history and culture

Posted By on Tue, Jul 12, 2016 at 3:23 PM

Pittsburgh marked its 200th birthday with a weekend of events, including a parade on Sat., July 9 that commemorated the election of Pittsburgh's first mayor in 1816, Ebenezer Denny. School kids, cultural organizations, previous mayors' descendents, historical-figure reenactors and colorful puppets marched down Liberty Avenue to Point State Park. See our photo's below, and read about the artist behind the giant puppets.

Bicentennial parade
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Bicentennial parade

Photos by Billy Ludt

Click to View 18 slides

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Monday, July 11, 2016

Deutschtown Music Festival brings over 180 bands to Pittsburgh's North Side

Posted By on Mon, Jul 11, 2016 at 2:15 PM

Music fans filled the North Side this weekend as the 4th Annual Deutschtown Music Festival brought over 180 bands to 21 stages for the free event.

The festival started Friday at 4 p.m. and continued through Saturday night. That's an extra day than the previous years of the festival, which first started in 2013 with roughly 50 bands on 12 stages. "What they expected to be a small neighborhood event highlighting the North Side now attracts thousands from around the city and beyond," reported Margaret Welsh in our preview.

We checked out the scene on Saturday night. Check out our slideshow below for photos from performances by The Hawkeyes, ISHTAR, Nox Boys and more.

Deutschtown Music Festival
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Deutschtown Music Festival

Photos by Luke Thor Travis

Click to View 60 slides

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Exhibits at Wood Street Galleries and SPACE Gallery are a highlight for attendees of Downtown Pittsburgh’s Gallery Crawl in the Cultural District

Posted By on Mon, Jul 11, 2016 at 12:55 PM

Downtown Gallery Crawl
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Downtown Gallery Crawl

Photos by Stephen Caruso

Click to View 39 slides

Attendees of Friday’s Gallery Crawl Downtown had to be prepared to be engulfed when they entered Wood Street Galleries’ second floor.

On display was Pêle-Mêle, a work by visual artist Olivier Ratsi, which aims to “simulate immaterial three-dimension space.” To do this, red light is projected in patterns onto structures strewn around the room. A low buzzing sound also filled the air. The end result is a trance like sensation as the room envelops the viewer.

Matthew Spangler, a Wilkinsburg resident, stood contemplative in the back of the room, taking in the whole experience.

“You just have to come with an open mind and see where it takes you,” Spangler said.

Such an open mind was key for the many participants in Friday’s crawl, organized by the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust. Gallery goers could find painting, printing, video games, live music and improv comedy — along with food and beer — scattered along Penn and Liberty avenues at 27 different stops, and all for free.

The most popular exhibit, John Riegert, was located at SPACE Gallery. Curated by Brett Yasko, the exhibit gave 250 Pittsburgh artists an assignment — make a portrait, in whatever medium they chose, of the eponymous man.

The artists’ originality was on full display, as audio visual displays, an impressionistic bust, even a wooden chair all worked together in harmony presenting their image of Riegert — sometimes with one of his two dogs, Jack and Zoe.

Riegert, himself an artist, wandered the exhibit as a living docent, to create, in his words, a “mind boggling” experience.

The long-white-haired subject managed to escape many people’s attention — perhaps the lack of the equally long white beard that appeared in most of the portraits can be blamed. But Riegert wasn’t there for attention.

“I’m not a very big egomaniac,” he said. “All I need is a clipboard and a sharpie marker, and I’m happy.”

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Friday, July 8, 2016

New mobile Pokemon game takes you on a tour of Pittsburgh

Posted By on Fri, Jul 8, 2016 at 11:42 AM

For the past 20 years, Pokemon fanatics have clutched their Gameboys and Nintendo DS's and hoped that one day they, too, might be able to set off on a journey across their region to capture the wild and mysterious creatures known as Pokemon. No more will we throw plastic Pokeballs at plush toys or pit our pets against one another to try make our world more like the Pokemon world. Now, our adventure has begun.  

On Wednesday, Niantic released Pokemon Go, the much anticipated mobile title from a franchise whose previous iterations have all been on Nintendo platforms. For the uninitiated, Pokemon is a video-game series, originally developed by Game Freak for the original Nintendo Game Boy in 1995.

A Psyduck found near Three Rivers Heritage Trail in the Strip District. The game crashed as soon as this Pokemon entered a Pokeball. - NIANTIC
  • Niantic
  • A Psyduck found near Three Rivers Heritage Trail in the Strip District. The game crashed as soon as this Pokemon entered a Pokeball.

On Wednesday, headlines continually popped up on social media saying that the game had been released in this or that region, but not quite yet in the States. And some folks were able to work around region-locked downloads and get the game a few hours earlier than their nation’s intended release.

But around 10 p.m. Wednesday night, I saw a headline finally announcing Pokemon Go’s U.S. release on Android and iOS, and within 10 minutes I was selecting my Pokemon trainer’s gender-starter Pokemon. The game uses your phone’s GPS to place your trainer on a map and indicate where nearby Gyms, Pokestops and Pokemon are located.

When you encounter a Pokemon, your camera activates for an augmented-reality battle sequence. You look around with your phone until the Pokemon comes on screen, and then you swipe a Pokeball toward it and pray that you catch it — a Pokemon tradition.

The first night, I picked Squirtle, a water-type Pokemon from the Generation I, as my starter. As I sat in my room,  my phone's screen showed the Squirtle sitting on my knee. I tossed a Pokeball at it and with Squirtle inside, the ball wobbled back and forth — the camera zooming in on my knee in suspense. The Pokeball stopped.

This is the closest I’ve been to catching a Pokemon in real life, and it all happened from the comfort of my bed.

But the real beauty of Pokemon Go is the prospect of adventure. Had it not rained that night, I would have been out in the streets, visiting PokeStops and catching more Pokemon.

Yesterday morning, I seized the opportunity to check out Pokestops on my commute. I stopped by the Hollow Men sculptures on the North Shore side of Three Rivers Heritage Trail and received three Pokeballs. PokeStops are attached to landmarks, like churches and monuments, and reward the trainer with items for visiting them.

Luckily, Pittsburgh is chock-full of these things. There’s at least one PokeStop nearly every block Downtown — often several.

For every one I’ve stopped at so far, I’ve received Pokeballs and, on occasion, an egg. The egg goes in an incubator and hatches a Pokemon — in the same fashion as the main series games — after you travel a certain distance. The greater the distance, the rarer the Pokemon.

Sitting at my desk, waiting for my phone to charge for this little adventure, I used the in-game incense item. It’s this game’s savior for those folks who are stuck in the office or just don’t feel like getting up.

After you use incense, Pokemon will come to your position for the next half hour. They’re single-use items, and you’re given only two to begin with. More can be purchased in-game, but currency comes from either going up in levels or from microtransactions. 

After using incense, my desk was barraged by Zubats, giving me flashbacks to my first time entering Mount Moon in Pokemon Blue as an unaware 6-year-old. But as a seasoned 23-year-old, I knew what I must do. I took aim at the first Zubat I encountered, hurled a Pokeball, caught it, gaining its Pokedex entry and I went on my way.

The first Zubat of many. - NIANTIC
  • Niantic
  • The first Zubat of many.

By the third Zubat that approached me, I wept virtual tears, begging the PokeGods for a Pokemon that’s a little less common, like that Clefairy that’s supposedly in my area, but has yet to appear ...

At noon, once my phone was charged, I hopped on my bike and rode toward Market Square from Centre City Tower (home to City Paper's offices). I found three PokeStops in the square: The Original Oyster House, Nicholas Coffee Co. and the "Work Accidents and the Law" plaque.

While at the plaque, I caught a psychic-type Pokemon, Drowzee. Surrounded by people during the lunch rush, in the heat of battle I waved my phone around to find the Drowzee. I aimed my camera at a nicely dressed fellow who stood next to the Pokemon, while I swiped Pokeballs in his and the Pokemon’s general direction — making both he and I a bit uncomfortable in the process. But, hey, “Gotta Catch 'em All,” right?

At that time, I noticed that cherry blossoms were falling from the plaque’s PokeStop indicator. I later found out that meant that Pokemon are attracted to that position for about a half hour. Which makes sense, because as I stood there I encountered a Rattata, a normal-type Pokemon, and another Zubat.

These cherry blossoms are caused by modules, an item that trainers can purchase in the in-game store and place on PokeStops.

Outside of PokeStops, once you reach level five, you’re able to participate in gym battles. I wasn’t able to reach level five by the time I finished writing this, because the servers kept crashing. But with the available number of Pokestops and Pokemon around the city, it shouldn’t take long for you to reach it.

At level five, you select a team to join, each bearing a color from the original Pokemon games. Those teams are Instinct (yellow), Mystic (blue) and Valor (red). Once a part of a team, the players are able to place Pokemon at unclaimed gyms or battle Pokemon at gyms claimed by opposing teams. 

After exploring Downtown, I rode to the heart of the Strip District and found a PokeStop at St. Stanislaus Church. I walked toward the river to find another stop and I encountered Psyduck, a water Pokemon. I tossed a Pokeball at it and as soon as it entered the ball, the game crashed. 

The two gripes I have with this game right now are the amount of server failures I encountered in the few hours I've played and how quickly it drains your battery.

A screen all too familiar to Pokemon Go players. - NIANTIC
  • Niantic
  • A screen all too familiar to Pokemon Go players.
It's not surprising on either count. New games, as of late, are typically buggy at release — especially on home consoles. Plus, Pokemon Go is running both your phone's camera and GPS. Regardless, this game has a lot of potential for attracting tourism to Pittsburgh and other cities. Region-locked Pokemon could bring travelers to certain places to expand their collection.

Nintendo made a big move by putting Pokemon on hardware it hasn't produced. The series has been a staple first-party title and a hand-held game system seller since its conception. But the transition from Gameboy/Nintendo DS to Android and iOS could bring the series to a wider audience. 

The Pokemon Go servers are still down as I write this, but if history holds true, the game should be running better in the coming weeks. I’ll endorse anything that makes me one step closer to becoming a real life Pokemon trainer.

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Thursday, July 7, 2016

PWSA addresses water-quality and billing problems

Posted By on Thu, Jul 7, 2016 at 4:02 PM

David Donahoe and Bill Peduto - PHOTO BY BILLY LUDT
  • Photo by Billy Ludt
  • David Donahoe and Bill Peduto
Last year, after the Pittsburgh Water & Sewer Authority installed new and advanced water-metering infrastructure (AMI), they received so many complaints it was often too much for their 30-person call center to handle. (They have 250 employees total.) The complaints largely centered on thousands of delayed bills, and approximated water-usage bills, some of which were much higher than regular costs.

At a press conference last week, PWSA provided an update on efforts to address these concerns and replace incompatible AMI units in Pittsburgh homes. While the focus of the conference was on PWSA’s customer service issues, in light of growing concerns over water quality nationwide, they also provided information on lead levels in city water.

“The basic assumption with both was that we have problems,” said Mayor Bill Peduto. “They are a part of an aging infrastructure of an old steel town that is still here as we move into the 21st century." 

Peduto said the authority has to put two actions into place to fix what they’re dealing with now and to further prevent issues: number one, make the branch’s operations transparent, and number two, approach future problems head on and with common sense.

At the press conference last week, David Donahoe, PWSA's interim director, told an anecdote about personally calling the water authority and spending five minutes on the line before speaking with anybody. But PWSA is seeing progress. Previously, 12 percent of PWSA callers hung up the phone before speaking with an operator. That number is now down to 2 percent, with waiting times around less than one minute.

“We are, obviously, a customer-based utility, and therefore being able to serve the customers and respond to them in a more timely basis is very important to us,” said Donahoe.

A task force has been assembled at PWSA to create an AMI plan, which Donahoe said should have been done prior to any installation. April, May and June of this year have been normal billing cycles for PWSA customers, as compared to last year, he said.

Outside of residential cases, around 1,000 meters in commercial settings will be replaced in total. So far, 400 have been replaced. Replacement requires shutting down all water in the business.

Donahue also explained that payment arrangements are being made for late bills exceeding a certain cost. A bill of up to $50 is a one-time payment; in the $50 to $200 range, payments are split between three months; bills of more than $200 are split into six payments. 

On the subject of water quality, Peduto said water leaving the testing facility is lead free, so lead contamination occurs somewhere between facility and faucet.

Mandatory lead tests take place in Pittsburgh every three years. The last test was done in 2013 to determine overall lead content in the city’s water. The results from these test indicate an increase over time: 2001 showed 6 parts per billion; 2004, 9.5 parts per billion; 2007, 9 parts per billion. 2010, 10 parts per billion; 2013, 14.8 parts per billion.

The Environmental Protection Agency's action level for lead in water is 15 parts per billion.

“That should have raised a red flag,” said Peduto. “When you go from 6 to 14.8 on mandatory testing in a 12-year period and you know that 15 is the EPA guideline. We should have been having this press conference back then.”

The city offers free customer-requested lead-testing services. Participants are given a bottle that they fill and return to the PWSA, which is sent to an independent lab. The program has received 1,065 requests, and 454 completed tests have been returned. 

Of those returned, 225 were non-detected for lead content. Donahoe said that the units tested were from random places throughout the city.

Of the remainder, 72 units tested at 1 to 5 parts per billion, 52 at 5.1 to 9.9 parts per billion, 24 at 10 to 14.9 parts per billion and 20 at 15 plus parts per billion.

Correction: The story initially stated that PSWA's call center employed 250 people. While PWSA employs a total of 250, 30 employees work in the call center.

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