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Baltimore Water Bills May Go Up To Pay For System Repairs

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BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Thousands of households could pick up the tab for Baltimore’s aging water system. The Department of Public Works wants to increase your bills to fund repairs.

Weijia Jiang has more on the proposal and how much you could pay for it.

A colossal water main break engulfed Dundalk in 2009 and left dozens of families struggling to recover. It’s the perfect example, Public Works officials say, of why Baltimore needs more tax revenue to fix aging infrastructure.

“Everything is raising. Life is getting expensive,” said Jose Torres-Mallery.

On Thursday, the department announced a proposal to increase the city’s water and sewer rate by nine percent, about $97 a year for a family of four.

“In order to keep the system running and to keep the system growing because we are in a growing metropolitan area, we have to do this,” said Kurt Kocher, Department of Public Works.

The money goes toward massive projects like the ones at Lake Montebello, a $12 million one to prevent sewer backups, another to deliver cleaner drinking water at a cost of $40 million.

For many people, it’s just too much.

“I feel it’s real bad. A lot of people are laid off, already behind bills. I’m just making it. Right now, I have a water bill over my head now,” said Tony Johnson.

“It’s terrible. They have to realize the income we get,” said Caroline Lewis.

But the city says with so much damage underground, there’s no choice but to collect more cash or the price will be even higher later.

“Typically, we find four to six percent of the pipe sections are in need of repair,” said one worker.

There is a public hearing scheduled for June 27 about the proposed hike. The Board of Estimates will vote after that.

Despite the proposed increase, Baltimore has one of the lowest water and sewer rates among comparable cities.

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