City approves nine percent water/sewer rate increase
Wednesday, 11 July 2012 11:31

Increased rates for service now in effect

by Ben Boehl
    If you are trying to conserve water in recent dry conditions, you might want to start conserving more water to help conserve your checking account. The Baltimore City Board of Estimates recently approved a recommended increase of nine percent  for water/sewer rates and fees for Baltimore City/County customers.

Baltimore City Department of Public Works Director Alfred H. Foxx said an increase was needed to meet numerous unfunded state and federal regulatory mandates, to upgrade the current aging infrastructure, to provide preventative inspections of sewer and water lines and to replace the current metering and billing systems.
    “I have charged the Bureau of Water and Wastewater with meeting our mandates, strengthening our infrastructure, planning for our future and enhancing our customer service,” Foxx explained.    
    “I have also charged them with doing so in a fiscally responsible manner. I am confident that we are moving forward on all fronts.”
    Bureau of Water and Wastewater head Rudolph S. Chow said he made the request for the increase at the June 27 hearing because of the mandates and for the recently declining infrastructure.
    The city reported that over 95 percent of its water mains have been in service for 65 years without inspection and some areas are beyond 100 years of service.
    Baltimore has been replacing only 0.5 percent of its water infrastructure annually over the past two decades. The Department of Public Works said the outdated infrastructure has been apparent, as they responded to 960 water main breaks in 2011 and nearly 400 for the first part of 2012.
    The new rates will raise the annual water and sewer bill for a family of four by approximately $97. Chow added that despite the increase, Baltimore continues to have some of the lowest water and sewer rates among comparable East Coast cities, and some utilities have instituted double-digit rate increases in the last few years.
    “By being proactive, and through proper asset management, we are ensuring our legacy of providing excellent drinking water at rates lower than most comparable east coast systems,” Chow said.
    The rate increase went into effect on June 28.