PWSA Curb Box Inspection Program

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

With almost daily news headlines across the country citing potentially elevated lead levels in our nation’s aging public water supply, metropolitan water authorities have focused their efforts on the efficient and accurate identification of their infrastructure’s material type. 

Michael Baker teamed with its long-standing partner of 30 years, The Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority (PWSA), to devise an inspection process to locate and identify service line pipe materials within its service area which may lead to elevated levels of lead contamination.

PWSA owns and maintains water service lines throughout the approximately 25-mile radius of the city of Pittsburgh and the borough of Millvale, serving more than 82,000 customers. Like most older cities with a lack of adequate historical construction records, the challenge becomes accurately inspecting service lines and identifying their composition. Our team leveraged diverse office and field skillsets, including surveying, GIS and website hosting, to inspect 15,000 curb boxes over a 12-month period, resulting in 1,250 inspections per month through all seasons. With extensive experience and knowledge of GIS and the Python scripting language, our daily post-processing and QA/QC processes are automated, repeatable and accurate. Scalability and flexibility of the field and office tasks lead to a sustainable and efficient process. 

This Curb Box Inspection Program is one of the tools used by PWSA to determine the need for additional service line evaluation or as a method to validate other service line data. These inspections occur with very minimal impact to PWSA customers and without the need for costly excavation activities. This effective inspection process is a key component to PWSA’s larger Lead Line Replacement Program, which aims to replace 2,100 lead services lines in 2018.


“When the curb box inspection program came to light, we realized that we had the technology, survey experience, GIS expertise and inspection crews to take this project head-on.”

David P.
Project Manager

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