From Source to Sink: Where Does Pittsburgh Get Its Water

While there are many different water sources for municipal water across the country – including watersheds, lakes, streams and rivers, the treatment process remains similar across the board. In Pittsburgh, our water goes on a journey from source to sink. But what exactly is that process, and where does Pittsburgh get its water?

Where Does Pittsburgh Water Come From?

To put it simply, Pittsburgh’s water sources are our great rivers, mainly the Allegheny River and the Ohio River. While this may sound unpleasant at first, the next section explains the exact process this water goes through in order to be ready for drinking, bathing, and cleaning in your Pittsburgh home. The water is taken to the treatment facility in Aspinwall or Neville Island, where it goes through a five-step process. There are a number of different water providers in the city including:

  • Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority
    • The PWSA provides the majority of Pittsburgh with water.
    • 300,000 customers in the Greater Pittsburgh Area
    • Treated at Aspinwall Treatment Facility
  • Pennsylvania American Water
    • 2.3 million customers across all of Pennsylvania
    • Treated at American Water
  • West View Water Authority
    • 200,000 customers in parts of Allegheny, Beaver, and Butler Counties
    • Treated at Neville Island Facility

This Five-Step Process Tells You EXACTLY Where Your Water Comes From

1) Screening – Surface water typically contains large debris (think fish, leaves, trash, etc.). If these objects make it to the water treatment facility they can clog the system, so they must be removed beforehand.  Systems that utilize surface water have screens covering the water intakes, catching any debris too large to fit through the holes.

2) Coagulation and Flocculation – this means that chemicals with a positive charge are added to the water.  These chemicals help neutralize the negative charges in dirt and other dissolved particles that remain.  This forms floc, which is large particles formed by the chemicals combining with the dissolved particles.

3) Sedimentation – after flocculation, your local water treatment authority lets the water sit for a while.  During this process, the denser floc particles sink to the bottom of the tanks, forming sediment.

4) Filtration – After the floc settles, the water is taken from the top of the tank.  It then passes through a series of filters (usually made of sand, gravel, and charcoal).  The different compositions and pore sizes of these filters help remove dissolved particles, such as parasites, bacteria, viruses and chemicals.

5) Disinfection – After filtration, a chemical such as chlorine or chloramine is then added to the water.  This is done to kill any remaining parasites, bacteria, or viruses.  This also protects the water from germs on the way from the treatment plant to the homes.

Pittsburgh Water Quality

According to the PWSA, they are “continuously monitoring your drinking water” here in Pittsburgh. They go on to say that findings show Pittsburgh drinking water to be far cleaner than all Federal and State requirements. Of course, some constituents were detected but they were below the minimum contaminant level and meet the regulatory requirements.

Regardless of location and your municipality treatment methods, you can always be sure that you’re getting clean water by using Culligan’s Whole House Water Filter or Reverse Osmosis systems. 

Whether you’re getting treated surface water, groundwater; or well water, you will be able to give your people crisp, clean, clear Culligan Water.

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