News Briefs: Baltimore's Water Affordability Proposal Could Inspire Other Cities

Also in this week's sewer and water news, two U.S. senators announce $38 million in water infrastructure funding in Maryland

Baltimore, Maryland, may soon pass the landmark Water Accountability and Equity Act, which would limit water bills for low-income residents to 3% of household income. The law could serve as a new standard for other cities in the nation.

Mayors in Chicago and Detroit have expressed interest in passing similar legislation, according to The American Prospect, while Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, passed an income-based water bill program in 2015.

Philadelphia’s program allows eligibility to residents earning up to 150% of the poverty line, while Baltimore’s would apply to citizens earning up to 200%.

Senators Announce $38 Million in Water Infrastructure Funding for Maryland

U.S. Senators Chris Van Hollen and Ben Cardin of Maryland have announced $38.4 million in federal funding for the implementation of several key water infrastructure projects in the state. The funding, allocated through the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Water State Revolving Fund (CWSRF), will go towards Maryland’s Intended Use Plan – a $297 million plan, approved by the EPA, which aims to upgrade wastewater treatment plants and stormwater control measures throughout the state.

Earlier this year, the senators wrote a letter urging Congress to maintain full funding for the EPA’s CWSRF. “This is a huge investment in Maryland’s efforts to upgrade our water infrastructure, protect public health, and reduce costs to consumers,” says Van Hollen. “These funds will reduce water pollution and improve the efficiency of our water use, ultimately resulting in better service and lower costs for Marylanders . . . Maryland’s success depends on modernizing our infrastructure, from our transportation networks to our sewage and water systems, and I will continue working in the Senate to secure investments for projects like these.” 

Cardin says safe, reliable water infrastructure is of the utmost importance for communities throughout Maryland. “These investments will improve the reliability of sewer systems, prevent pollution from reaching public waters including the Chesapeake Bay, and protect against future flooding.” The CWSRF program provides low-interest loans for the construction of wastewater treatment facilities and other projects vital to protecting and improving water quality in rivers, lakes and streams for drinking water, recreation and natural habitat. The loans help communities keep water and sewer rates more affordable while addressing local water quality problems.

Water Worker Turns Himself In After Crashing Into Utility Pole

A water department employee in Hammond, Indiana, recently turned himself in to police during his lunch break for crashing his vehicle into a utility pole the previous day.

He is charged with leaving the scene of the accident, and is now on an unpaid suspension from his job at the water department, according to a city attorney. The attorney believes the employee was on personal time and not on the clock during the time of the crash. 


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