The Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority in conjunction with The University of Pittsburgh Schools of Engineering is conducting studies on the region's drinking water.
Recent tests have shown rising levels of contaminants. There have been trihalomethanes or THM's over the past couple months. Those are formed when bromides combine with chlorine. Bromide is a naturally occurring substance in the soil. But it can come from other sources as well such as coal fired power plants, mine drainage discharges or oil and gas wastewater.
In high quantities and over long periods of time, THM’s can cause damage to the liver, kidney and central nervous system.
Researchers have been testing the Allegheny River, The Conemaugh River, The Kiskiminetas River and some of the small streams that feed into those. Stanley States, The Director of Water Quality and Production for the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority says other factors could be at play such as more tropical weather in the summer months which creates more algae in the river. Although the levels of bromide are higher, the water is still drinkable.
"What would have to occur is over a period of time that we continue seeing elevated bromide concentrations that translate into elevated disinfected biproducts and then at that point this may significantly impair the quality of the water, it may be a compliance issue too," said States.