Maryland Water Systems in Need of Federal Assistance

Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and General Manager of the Washington Suburban Sanitary (WSSC) Commission Jerry N. Johnson spoke before the US House of Representatives’ Environment and Public Works Subcommittee on Water and Wildlife to address the difficulties localities face in maintaining and replacing water and sewer systems.   As a report issued bye the American Water Works Association estimated that maintenance and repairs to water distribution systems will exceed $1 trillion nationwide within 25 years.  The Gazette reports:

In the WSSC’s water distribution system, 26 percent of pipes are more than 50 years old, and the cost of replacing underground water lines over the next six years is about $750 million for the utility — a pace and expense the utility will have to maintain, Johnson said.

Baltimore may have to introduce a fee on all impervious areas to pay for requirements to curb pollution from stormwater runoff, said Rawlings-Blake, who is co-chairwoman of the Water Council for the U.S. Conference of Mayors.

The mayor said she is encouraged by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s decision last fall to work with cities and states on a planning approach that could help local governments find a more cost-effective way to meet requirements for their sewer systems under the Clean Water Act.

The mayor said she would like for federal officials also to take an integrated planning approach for drinking water systems.

U.S. Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin (D-Md.), chairman of the subcommittee, said he is still working to require the U.S. Department of Transportation to develop performance-based standards to reduce pollution and damage from stormwater runoff in areas around federally funded highways.

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