BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Out of sight but now out of mind. At least not for those trying to keep old water systems like Baltimore’s running.
Alex DeMetrick reports, to keep water coming out of the tap, federal money has to start flowing.READ MORE: U.S. Park Police Name Pamela Smith As New Chief, First Black Woman To Lead The Force
Every year, hundreds of water lines fail in Baltimore’s delivery system.
And it’s happening throughout the nation’s oldest cities with the older underground infrastructure.
“These are things you don’t necessarily see but they obviously affect our quality of life,” says U.S. Rep. John Sarbanes (D-Maryland).
Sarbanes and Congressman Paul Tonko of New York recently toured some of that infrastructure.
The Ashburton Filtration Plant is one of three in Baltimore’s system, which starts at reservoirs like Loch Raven. But between there and homes, it’s mostly underground pipes. Some are a century or more old. And repairing breaks in them isn’t cheap.
“It is 10 times more expensive to repair the system after they break than to do preventative therapy,” says Tonko.READ MORE: Bobbleheads Memorialize Baltimore Sports Superfan Mo Gaba, Raise Money For Charity
That therapy is new infrastructure, some currently underway at Loch Raven.
Sarbanes and Tonko are both pushing bills to increase federal funds for that kind of work, because right now, 7 billion gallons of treated water are lost every day in the U.S. from broken pipes.
Their bill proposes to spend $22 billion over five years to replace old lines.
But engineers say $384 billion will be needed over the next 20 years.
“So the longer we wait the more costly it becomes,” Tonko says. “It is a part of every life, every job.”
The competition for federal infrastructure funds is intense, though. Right now, highways get 25 percent, while water systems only get 4 percent.MORE NEWS: Baltimore Mayor, Maryland Governor Clash After Hogan Says City Getting More Vaccines Than ‘Entitled To’ In Response To WJZ Question