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Report Suggests Baltimore City, Baltimore County Consolidate Operations Of Water Systems

BALTIMORE (WJZ) -- A new report released on Monday suggests Baltimore City and Baltimore County consolidate operations of the systems that bring drinking water to residents' homes and treat wastewater.

The 308-page report, commissioned by the city and the county, said consolidating management of the water and sewer system could lower some costs, make it easier to acquire low-cost financing for capital projects, improve the reliability of the water supply and provide a detailed assessment of the infrastructure systems and problems that plague the current model, such as billing.

Similar organizations exist in Prince George's and Montgomery counties and the City of Richmond and Henrico County, Va., the report said.

Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott and Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski Jr. have formed a working group to review the report's findings.

"Fixing the issues that have plagued our water system for decades is a priority for my administration, our residents, and our water customers," Scott said in a statement. "This comprehensive review is a critical first step in fixing the system once and for all. Transforming our water and sewer system into one that works for all residents and customers is attainable, and now we have a blueprint to guide our efforts."

Under the current system, the city provides water and wastewater services to 1.8 million residents in the region, covering all of Baltimore City, large parts of Baltimore County, and portions of Anne Arundel, Carroll, Howard and Harford counties.

The city is responsible for the operation and maintenance of the water distribution system and related infrastructure for the whole metropolitan area, all water filtration facilities, wastewater treatment plans, and the infrastructure that carries wastewater.

Meanwhile, Baltimore County is only responsible for projects that solely benefit county residents and the conveyance of its wastewater for treatment.

When this arrangement was devised in 1945, the population of the city was 904,000 and the population in Baltimore County was 213,000, compared with 593,000 and 827,000, respectively, in 2020.

"This report is a critical and long overdue step towards improving how our jurisdictions can better work in partnership to modernize our shared water system," Olszewski said in a statement. "I appreciate Baltimore City's commitment to this collaborative effort, and my administration remains open to exploring to all productive paths forward, including consideration of a regional authority so that we can best support all our residents."

NewGen Strategies & Solutions, a consulting firm that studies public and private sector utilities, wrote the report.

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