The City of Bowie unanimously voted Tuesday to approve a $1,800 water filter rebate program for Bowie residents experiencing brown discolored water.

By DeAnna Giles,
Special to the AFRO

The City of Bowie unanimously approved a water filter rebate program for residents serviced by the Bowie Water System.

The rebate program was approved for $50,000, which allows the first 27 eligible residents to undergo water testing and receive up to $1,800 in rebate for a water filtration system of their choice. 

The program is on a first come, first served basis and is eligible for 7,909 residents.

Bowie residents have been experiencing brown discolored water for the past few years. During that time, there had been about 202 complaints about discolored water according to Public Works Director Jose Aldayuz.

Bowie residents attended the City Council meeting to express the concerns of neighbors who consistently receive brown water flowing through their systems.

“You constantly delay and continue to sell us dirty brown water,” said Matthew Gallagher of Bowie.

Another Bowie resident, who is a mother of two, expressed how she is unable to bathe her children because of the brown discolored water filling her tub. She has lived in her home for more than 10 years and said, “No families should have to be concerned about the quality of water that’s flowing through their homes.”

According to World Population Review, Bowie has a projected population of nearly 60,000 but only 13 percent of customers are eligible due to their water service. The majority of Bowie residents are serviced by the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission and do not experience discolored water, according to City Manager Alfred Lott. 

The Bowie Water System was built in the early 1960s. As a result, the cast iron pipes continue to deteriorate and corrode causing a flow of brown discolored water in homes.

A turbidity test, presented at a City Council meeting by City Manager Alfred Lott and Assistant City Manager Daniel Mears, revealing the concentration of brown water is required in order to receive the $1,800 rebate.

The goal of the program is to help provide clean water to Bowie residents. The priority of the water filtration system, chosen by the residents, is to handle the discoloration of the water.

To be eligible for the rebate program, customers must be serviced by the Bowie Water System, the discoloration or sedimentation has to be detectable through the home fixtures and verified by Bowie water utility staff through a turbidity test.

The turbidity test will measure the clarity of the water and must show a measurement greater than 50. This will indicate the concentration of particles in the water.  

Bowie water utility staff will make two home visits, a pre authorization and verification visit and will consist of a three-part test with at least two weeks in-between the tests to show discoloration persistence. 

“I don’t think that it’s gonna be a daunting task because we’re talking about the 27 requests that will be processed. I think that’s manageable,” Aldayuz said.

The City of Bowie established a smaller water filter rebate program in 2021 where residents received a $50 rebate if serviced by the Bowie Water System.

Councilmember Dufour Woolfley stated in the meeting the incentive is: “to encourage people to take advantage and to provide an opportunity for somebody to save some money.”

According to Lott, the pipeline project will take months to years to finish, which means the rebate program is proposed as a mitigation for now.

Despite concerns, Assistant City Manager Daniel Mears has reiterated the water provided by Bowie is regularly tested and is safe to drink. 

“No matter how safe the water has been reported to be, I can’t help but think of the long term implications it can have on one’s health,” said a Bowie resident and mother.

An annual water quality report for Bowie Water System residents is made available by July 1 of each year.

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