For residents and landowners throughout Baltimore County, MD, the cost of water and sewer use is about to become significantly more pricey.
In an effort to raise funding for much-needed infrastructural improvements, county officials recently announced their plan to raise rates for water and sewer services by 15% for residents and landowners, a price increase expected to take effect July 1.
While officials say the rate hike is a necessary evil in order to generate revenue for large-scale sewer line replacements, residents and local politicians are speaking out against the increase, according to an April 8 Baltimore Sun article.
By raising rates by 15%, the county will generate an additional $32 million each year to go toward replacing and relining pipes — which can be buried anywhere from 12 to 24 inches below ground — as well as upgrading sewage treatment plants and a number of other projects needed to bring Baltimore County up to federal standards. In all, the county’s needed sewer repairs will cost approximately $900 million between now and 2020.
When the rate change goes into effect, a four-person family’s annual water and sewer bills will rise to about $141, according to the Baltimore Sun. This is the first rate increase for water and sewer services since 2010, and it’s a change that will impact an estimated 230,000 people.
While many families may bulk at the significant increase, Baltimore County is obligated to follow a federal order issued 15 years ago that requires it to improve its sewer system and take action against sewer overflows, according to WMAR 2. By giving its more than 3,000 miles of sewer line an overhaul, Baltimore County will help preserve public health and improve the health of the Chesapeake Bay’s fragile ecosystem.
“Sewage overflows present a health hazard to the Bay and the entire watershed. Overflow of raw sewage works its way into the Chesapeake Bay,” County Executive Kevin Kamenetz said in a statement. “We’ve got pipes that are 60 and 70 years old, and more than half of our pipes exceed their natural lifespan. The need for repairs to this aging infrastructure is not going away and we must continue to address it now.”