Counties: Water Reporting Requirements are Gratuitous, Burdensome

On February 23, 2023, Associate Policy Director Dominic Butchko testified before the Senate Education, Energy, and the Environment Committee in opposition to SB 513 – Environment – Collection and Reporting of Drinking Water and Wastewater Data and Information – Requirements.

SB 513 requires that counties operating water utilities provide the State Department of the Environment with detailed customer, system, and financial data on a regular basis, for inclusion in a public database. While counties agree with this bill’s intent to provide consumers with safer public utilities, the new reporting requirements are burdensome and add an unreasonable expense for local government, considering the good work already done to ensure there are open lines of communication between taxpayers, their elected officials, and service providers. The methods called for in SB 513 are superfluous and expensive, all without any guarentee of promoting better service.

From the MACo Testimony:

Counties fully embrace the idea of transparency. Public water system users already have various ways to raise concerns about service and rates, including directly to their locally elected officials. SB 513 imposes an arbitrary and burdensome mandate on counties, requiring no fewer than 55 points of information and empowers MDE to go even further and enumerate additional data points at their discretion. The Maryland Association of Municipal Wastewater Agencies – the association representing the vast majority of wastewater systems in Maryland – points out that many of these data points are duplicative, unnecessary, and/or not within the purview of a water utility to aggregate.

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