CBF: Baltimore Should Provide Its Residents with Regular Information on Sewer Improvements

(ANNAPOLIS, MD)—Alison Prost, Maryland Executive Director of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, issued this statement today following a vote by the Baltimore Board of Estimates to approve a modified consent decree with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Department of Justice, and the Maryland Department of the Environment to reduce sanitary sewer overflows in the city. The original decree required the work be finished by last year. The modified decree extends that deadline.

"Given the size and magnitude of the Headworks Project at the Back River Waste Water Treatment Plant, the new deadline for finishing the most significant portion of the work is reasonable. But residents and all those who care about cleaner city streams and Inner Harbor need assurances that the city will meet that timetable.

"We are encouraged Mayor Pugh told the Board of Estimates the city can control how it is accountable for performing the work required. Other cities in similar situations, such as Cincinnati, have set up programs to ensure accountability and transparency. Baltimore can do the same.

"In addition to providing quarterly progress reports and annual public information sessions as required by the consent decree, Baltimore should also reconstitute a stakeholder group that includes citizens and other interested stakeholders to receive and pass on that information. To ensure accountability, the city also could use water quality monitoring to inform its repair plans, and reallocate funds nimbly to problem areas long before hard deadlines are missed."

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