Maryland Senators Barbara Mikulski and Ben Cardin toured Baltimore’s 99-year-old Montebello water filtration plant this morning. The lawmakers were there to build their case for federal help in modernizing aging facilities across the nation.
Water passing through Montebello serves much of the Baltimore metropolitan area. At the plant, a display of dials and gauges suggested that the noisy equipment monitoring the quality of drinking water works just fine. But Art Shapiro of the city’s Public Works department warned there’s no cause for complacency. “We can’t sit back and watch as the water mains break or as the water treatment plants and the sewage treatment plants simply decay over time,” he said.
In order to help Baltimore and the rest of America upgrade water plants, the Maryland senators are backing legislation that could mean a federal investment of nearly $700 billion over the next decade. Cardin said the investment would pay for itself. “Millions of dollars are spent on utility bills that could be saved if we had a modern facility that we could rely upon,” Cardin contended.
Mikulski acknowledged, though, that getting a massive new spending bill through the current Congress will be tough. “We have the will,” she said, “but we don’t have the wallet.”