Baltimore Department of Public Works (DPW)

By Deborah Bailey,
Special to the AFRO

Baltimore recently received $396 million in water infrastructure financing from the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to fund modernization of the city’s outdated substructure. 

“Baltimore’s WIFIA funding will enable the city to proactively implement projects improving the reliability and resiliency of more than 37 miles of aging pipes” said EPA Administrator Michael Regen. 

In my first year as EPA Administrator, I have visited communities from coast to coast. I’ve seen aging infrastructure that communities count on for clean and safe water. I’ve seen the harm that is caused when water systems fail, and I’ve seen the revitalization that comes with new investment,” Regan added.

The EPA’s Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act is designed to invest in the health of water systems to protect public health and the environment while creating jobs.    

“The improvements that will go towards supporting communities in East and West Baltimore that have been traditionally excluded from such investments,” Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott. 

Baltimore Department of Public Works (DPW) Director Jason W. Mitchell said the upgrades will guarantee all Baltimoreans can have access to clean, healthy water without having to worry about unaffordable water bills.  

“We will make these critical improvements using an equity lens to prioritize supporting low-income communities and communities of color. Taking full advantage of the WIFIA program allows the department to not only protect Baltimore City ratepayers as infrastructure costs continue to rise but also expand access for residents to our high-quality award-winning water through such programs as the upcoming Water4All” Mitchell said. 

“Investing in water infrastructure strengthens the health of our communities while creating good paying jobs,” said Ragen, adding that the infrastructure improvements in Baltimore are expected to generate 2700 jobs in construction and operation of the new infrastructure.

Charm City is one of the first metropolitan areas nationwide announced for the EPA WIFA loans during Ragen’s tenure as EPA Administrator. The other jurisdictions are Union Sanitary District, California, receiving $250 million WIFA loan and Milwaukee, Wisconsin, receiving $42 million in WIFA funding. 

The EPA’s WIFA is a loan-based program.  The city is awaiting word on the possibility of additional allocations under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, passed in December, 2022. The State of Maryland has been allocated more than $144 million in infrastructure dollars under the Bipartisan Act and is in the process of determining how and in what jurisdictions those funds will be spent. 

Maryland General Assembly Speaker, Adrienne Jones, recently called on Governor Larry Hogan to reveal plans for the infrastructure spending in his FY 2023 state budget.

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