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Sen. Ben Cardin Asks Congress To Help Upgrade Baltimore’s Aging Water System

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WJZ general assignment reporter Mike Hellgren came to Maryland's News...
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BALTIMORE (WJZ)– Water conservation is urged for much of the area and a temporary water system is finally in place on Light Street. Just hours ago, Sen. Ben Cardin spoke to Congress, alarmed about what could happen next.

Mike Hellgren has more on his outrage.

The break of a 133-year-old water main turned Light Street into a river, shutting it down for three weeks for repairs.

The Department of Public Works (DPW) knew the main was at risk but with little money and so many others also classified as high risk, it hadn’t been replaced.

Sen. Cardin (D-Baltimore) is calling on Congress for help.

“What’s happening in Baltimore, what’s happening in Maryland, it’s happening in every one of our states,” he said. “This is not a one-state problem. This is a national problem. I can tell you people are outraged.”

Baltimore City’s crumbling system supplies the entire region, including Baltimore County, Anne Arundel and parts of Howard, Harford, and Carroll counties.

Even with water rates going up nine percent and $300 million in replacement pipe going in in the next five years, many fear it is still not enough to keep up with the aging system.

“Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake of Baltimore testified that she would like to see some form of a trust established,” Cardin said. “This makes sense. We need to do this.”

Back on Light Street, a temporary water system finally allowed businesses to open.

“I’m shocked because it looks scary,” Beverly Nichols, who works downtown, said.

“Anxious, scared, nervous sitting in this building right here,” another resident said.

But this isn’t the only trouble spot. Using high-tech equipment, the DPW discovered an even bigger main in South Baltimore was about to crack, prompting them to ask people there and in 13 Anne Arundel zip codes to conserve water while it’s being fixed.

“We’re thinking a few days, a week or so. Everything should be back to normal,” Rudolph Chow, the bureau head of the DPW, said.

Many wonder when and where the next emergency will strike.

The final cost for the Light Street repairs hasn’t been tallied but is estimated to be in the millions.

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