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Baltimore County News

Stay informed of what's happening in Baltimore County.
Date: Jul 19, 2017

By Steve Walsh, Director, Baltimore County Department of Public Works

Keeping safe and healthy means fighting for clean air and water and serving as good stewards of our land. With 200 miles of waterfront and 2,000 miles of streams and tributaries in Baltimore County, we consider protection of the environment a sacred trust.

When you are a diverse county of more than 831,000 people in a region of over 2.8 million residents, the balance between thoughtful development and preserving environmental resources is one of the major responsibilities of government. We take this responsibility very seriously in Baltimore County.

It’s not just a local issue. Across the country, infrastructure that was built in the 1950s is strained. Water and sewer pipes that were installed decades ago are literally bursting at the seams, increasing the number of water main breaks and waste overflows.

To put the scale of the issue into local perspective, there are 3,160 miles of sewer lines plus 2,139 miles of water lines in Baltimore County alone. Sixty percent of the County's water and sewer pipes are more than 50 years old, which is the average life span of a water and sewer pipe. More than half of all the County's pipes were installed before 1970, with the greatest percentage installed in the 1950s.

We could sit and wait for a major environmental disaster. But, Baltimore County is moving forward, modernizing our crumbling infrastructure with an historic $1.6 billion investment in water and sewer system upgrades.

“These ongoing improvements must be made to protect our citizens, now and for the next generation. As a responsible government, we must bite the bullet now and not kick the can down the road," said Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz.     

In 2005, Baltimore County entered into a consent decree with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Maryland Department of the Environment to address these pressing needs. Baltimore County has invested over a billion dollars in water and sewer infrastructure, inspecting hundreds of miles of pipe, rebuilding pumping stations, replacing old lines and monitoring the system. Traditional overflow points have been sealed. Replacement lines have been built to accommodate increased capacity. Sanitary overflows are turning the corner with reductions in annual incidents. All of the County’s major pumping stations have been rebuilt and modernized. The County is on schedule to meet its consent decree obligations and is in good standing.

The County implements a rigorous preventive schedule for inspecting, cleaning and monitoring our entire water and sewer system. When a new development is proposed, we carefully evaluate our capacity to be sure we do not overload the system.  

Every community should expect - and deserves - clean water and safe sewer systems. Infrastructure is a shared benefit. Responsible stewardship of our environmental resources is a shared responsibility.  


 
 
Revised September 26, 2016