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Senators Push For Upgrades At Md. Water Plant

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Alex DeMetrick has been a general assignment reporter with WJZ...
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BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Right out of the tape, we take water for granted—but in Baltimore, that fresh drink is traveling through some pretty old pipes.

Alex DeMetrick reports modernizing won’t be cheap.

The Lake Montebello Water Filtration Plant is a major part of Baltimore’s drinking water system. It’s also 99 years old.

“It was the best of its time 100 years ago but it’s not today and we need to invest,” said Senator Ben Cardin.

That was the message Maryland’s two senators carried with them in a tour of the plant, which shows its age even with decades of repairs.

And it’s only one link in a delivery system providing clean, safe water to nearly two million people.

“$4.5 to five billion dollars in terms of piping, of everything we need to do in order to get the system up to where it needs to be,” said Deputy Mayor for Operations Khalil Zaied.

Modernization might bring more than just clean water.

“We believe public investments in infrastructure return dividends,” said Senator Barbara Mikulski.

According to the US Department of Commerce, every dollar spent on infrastructure generates three dollars worth of economic output by other industries and for every water infrastructure job, four jobs are created elsewhere in the economy.

Backers of infrastructure spending also say millions being spent in Baltimore on repairs and outdated technology now could be saved.

“We’re not saving money by not modernizing. In fact, it’s the opposite. In other words, those are investments over time because we would be building for the next 100 years,” Mikulski said.

Not making do with the last hundred.

The governor’s office estimates it will cost nearly $50 billion to bring old systems up to date throughout Maryland. The national price tag soars to $1 trillion.

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