July 07, 2014

Cardin, Mikulski Visit Baltimore City’s 99-Year-Old Water Filtration Plant In Push To Make Water Infrastructure Upgrades A National Priority

BALTIMORE - U.S. Senator Ben Cardin, Chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Subcommittee on Water, and Senator Barbara A. Mikulski, Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, today took a tour of Baltimore City’s Montebello Water Treatment Plant # 1. Opened in 1915, the 99-year old facility is one of three major municipal water filtration plants in Baltimore, providing clean drinking water to residents of Baltimore City, and parts of Baltimore, Howard and Anne Arundel counties.

 

"I drink Baltimore tap water daily. Our city is blessed with good source water, but to ensure the safety and security of Baltimore tap water, the treatment system needs to be updated. We waste millions of gallons of water each day from leakage alone the cost of which is passed on to ratepayers, while also taking a toll on the health of our natural water resources," said Senator Cardin. "Investing in water infrastructure is the right thing to do for public health, for our environment and to save energy, but it also creates jobs. Our water infrastructure provides a foundation for economic growth in every community across this nation."

 

"Today I visited Montebello along with Senator Cardin to get an up-close view of Maryland's aging water infrastructure," Senator Mikulski said. "Maryland cities and towns need to upgrade their water and sewer infrastructure, but they can’t do it on their own. They need a government that’s on their side. I'm fighting for smart federal funding that communities can use to wash away the rust and decay of crumbling water infrastructure and create jobs, protect public safety, protect the environment and protect ratepayers. I'll keep working to shine a light on the need for water infrastructure investments to make sure that Maryland's water works."

 

The nation's drinking water systems face staggering public investment needs. According to the U.S. conference of Mayors, public water systems will require an average of more than $100 billion per year in funding over the next 20 years to upgrade or replace aging water infrastructure. It’s also estimated that by 2020, the forecasted deficit for sustaining water delivery and wastewater treatment infrastructure nationally, will trigger a $206 billion increase in costs for businesses.  In a worst case scenario, a lack of water infrastructure investment will cause the United States to lose nearly 700,000 jobs by 2020. 

 

The immediate and long-term dividends of investing in water infrastructure are significant. The U.S. Conference of Mayors notes that each public dollar invested in water infrastructure increases private long-term GDP output by more than $6. The Department of Commerce has found that that same dollar yields close to $3 worth of economic output in other industries. Every job created in local water and sewer industries creates close to four jobs elsewhere in the national economy.

 

Federal investment in water infrastructure can come from a variety of means. The recently passed Conference Report on the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) included reauthorization of the Clean Water State Revolving Fund, which sets formula funding for all states wastewater infrastructure. This SRF had not been reauthorized for more than 25 years. However, the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund still has not been reauthorized since 1996.

 

The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee reported favorably, with unanimous support, Senator Cardin’s Water Resources Research Act (S.970) in April 2014. This bill supplies to grants to 54 land grant universities to study improvements in water supply reliability, explore new ideas that address water problems or expand understanding of water and water-related phenomena, and disseminate research to water managers and the public.

 

As Chairwoman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Senator Mikulski has fought for Maryland's fair share in water and sewer infrastructure funding. In the fiscal year (FY) 2014 Omnibus spending bill, Senator Mikulski fought to protect federal grant funding to help communities improve their infrastructure so local governments and taxpayers won't have to bear the burden of paying for these critical upgrades alone. In the FY2015 Agriculture Appropriations Act, Senator Mikulski fought to increase funding for water and sewer infrastructure nationwide by $50 million over 2014 levels. Additionally, the recently-passed Farm Bill includes $150 million for USDA grants Maryland communities rely on.

Senator Cardin also introduced The Water Infrastructure Resiliency and Sustainability Act (S. 1508) in September 2013. The Act aims to help local communities meet the challenges of upgrading water infrastructure systems to meet the hydrological changes we are seeing today. Communities across the country would be able to compete for federal matching funds, which in turn will help finance projects to help communities improve water conservation, adjust current infrastructure systems, and fund programs to stabilize communities’ existing water supply. It is meant to complement, not replace, the federal funding structure that is the longstanding foundation for water infrastructure support in this country: the Clean Water and Drinking Water State Revolving Funds (SRFs). 

 

Montebello Filtration Plant No. 1 was placed in service in service in 1915 and can treat up to 128 million gallons per day of water from Loch Raven Reservoir or the Susquehanna River. The plant has two rapid mix chambers, four flocculators, four sedimentation basins, and 32 rapid sand filters. Treated water from the plant supplies the First Zone by gravity and other zones via pumping.

 

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