Fresh Water, Foul Sewage
Baltimore water customers getting discount promised after E. coli outbreak
City customers, who had to buy or boil water and flush their pipes during the boil water advisory, will get a break on their September bills
Above: Water is flushed out of a temporary pipe in Sandtown-Winchester where routine sampling turned up E. coli contamination over the Labor Day weekend. (Fern Shen)
After his administration came under fire for failing to promptly alert residents to an E. coli outbreak, Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott announced that water bills would be reduced by 25% for one month to make up for the inconvenience.
Starting this week, the discount is kicking in.
“We know the boil water advisory placed an undue burden on our residents,” Scott said in a press release.
Thousands of residents in west and southwest Baltimore and parts of Baltimore County were advised to boil city tap water or use bottled water and, after the advisory was lifted, to flush their lines before resuming use.
Residential customers will begin to see the break applied to account charges they incurred immediately following the boil water advisory, which was issued on Labor Day, September 5.
The one-month discount of 25% applies only to city water customers, even though the boil water advisory affected some Baltimore County residents. That’s because the city doesn’t control rates in the county, DPW spokesman James E. Bentley told The Brew.
DPW Points to Sinkholes
When the boil water advisory was lifted on September 9, city officials said water sampling no longer showed E. coli contamination.
But DPW still had no explanation for the incident, saying that the “root causes” might never be found. Routine sampling had turned up concerning levels of E. coli in three West Baltimore locations.
Addressing a City Council hearing, DPW officials said the likely cause was a series of failures in aging infrastructure, including a sinkhole on North Avenue caused by the collapse of a 115-year-old stormwater tunnel and another sinkhole at Lake Ashburton.
Discounts by end of November
According to today’s release, the discount will apply to nearly 200,000 eligible accounts.
It will cover charges for the entire September monthly bill, except for the $5 Bay Restoration fee passed onto the state of Maryland and reflected under the line item “adjustments/fees” on residential bills.
To compare the discounted amount, customers should reference their September monthly bill which can also be accessed online at https://waterbillportal.baltimorecity.gov.
All discounts should be reflected by the end of November.
If customers do not see the discount on their billing statements, they should contact DPW at (410) 396-5398 or via email at email@example.com.