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Charles Street Water Main Break Testament Of Aging Infrastructure

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Alex DeMetrick 370x278 Alex DeMetrick
Alex DeMetrick has been a general assignment reporter with WJZ...
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BALTIMORE (WJZ)–As disruptive as the current water main break is, it’s only the latest in a number of infrastructure failures.

Alex DeMetrick has a larger look of what lies beneath our feet.

Even when main lines collapse away from heavily populated areas, they have impact. A break in Halethorpe brought passenger trains to a standstill in 2009.

At the heart of a city, it can stop everyone. Another 2009 break happened the day before the Halethorpe rupture.

Here’s why: “Old infrastructure. During the seasonal changes, the ground shifts and the water mains break either in the winter or the spring when the temperature changes,” former Department of Public Works director David Scott said in 2009.

And those factors haven’t changed in this latest break.

“We have pipes underground. Some that are 100-years-old,” Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said.

And until they can be replaced–rather than just patched up–destructive breaks are going to continue. Just this past summer, DPW won a 9 percent increase in water bills for infrastructure work.

“Our water infrastructure has been crumbling beneath our feet and cannot be ignored,” said one DPW worker.

But that won’t be nearly enough money for improvements that will run into the hundreds of millions of dollars.

“It’s big and it’s bad and we need more money for water improvement infrastructure,” Mayor Rawlings-Blake said.

The mayor hopes President Barack Obama’s re-election may bring stalled plans for major infrastructure spending back to life–and Baltimore’s head above water.

While water lines are a prime concern, underground utilities carrying sewage and storm water are also concerns.

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