The Clean Water Blog

Baltimore's 2020 Sewer Update

On Thursday, January 23, Baltimore’s Department of Public Works held a public information session on its tasks and progress on sewers and Baltimore’s sewage consent decree. DPW lawyer Paul DeSantis spoke for the brunt of presentation, and afterwards six stations were also held to elucidate issues in the eye of the public. DeSantis recapped on ideas such as Baltimore’s consent decree, the number of closed and open SSO structures, Phase 1 and Phase 2 goals of Baltimore’s modified consent decree, and the Headworks project.

Some emphasized points included additional flow monitors and rainfall gauges in areas such as Dundalk and explanation/expansion of DPW’s hydraulic model.  The hydraulic model is used to estimate and determine different amounts of rainfall’s effect on the system, such as an overflow, and allegedly, the reason for it. This works hand in hand with rainfall gauges, as their data directly is used to recalibrate the hydraulic model. There was new information on updated rain gauge positions, but again largely a review of things being done as stated previously in the MCD. The stations then elaborated on the concepts of Communication (including Customer Service and Affordability), Collection System and Tools (SSO’s), Maintenance & Preventive Maintenance, MCD Compliance, Facilities (Wastewater), Regulatory Requirements, and DPW’s Small Business Development Program. The small business development program allows to develop contractors for city projects.

It was useful information, but the whole presentation reviewed information that was already released, then DPW created stations that highlighted the same. Is sluggish headway is being made on important projects that information and progress are needed on? DPW does have meetings that are eerily similar in structure and content from the previous years' meetings. Again shown, are several speakers and stations highlighting the same major points. It seems that familiarity is an important part of DPW’s core values, as they continue to hold yearly public information meetings with a precise, static formula. DeSantis closing statement about “Doing what we need to do” and statements throughout his presentation about DPW “Doing more” and “Working smart”, shows that DPW at least cares that city residents feel some security.