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CBS Baltimore - Baltimore Officials Work to Prevent Future Water Main Breaks

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Location: Baltimore, MD

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The water main break has caused a lot of problems for Baltimore residents, workers and businesses.

Adam May investigates what's being done to try to stop future leaks.

Water mains across Baltimore are breaking at an alarming rate. One thousand rupture every year and the latest one downtown was predicted by furious homeowners in Dundalk, where 100 homes flooded in 2009.

"They're just going to wait for these pipes to keep busting and then the next community down the road has to deal with?" said one woman.

Since that monstrous break, the city has developed new plans to replace and rehabilitate some of the most endangered water mains, but to pay for it, water rates just went up nine percent.

"I think everyone was frustrated when we had to increase water rates, but this is what it's for. We need to pay for the maintenance," said Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake.

Earlier this year, the mayor testified on Capitol Hill, begging for more federal funding for water projects. A recent WJZ investigation exposed the astronomically-priced ticking time bomb under city streets.

"[It would cost] two billion dollars. That's our estimate," said David Scott, Former DPW Director.

For years, Maryland Senator Ben Cardin has tried convincing his colleagues to make a greater investment in water infrastructure.

"This is an issue of preventing property damage," Cardin said.

His bills have been blocked by Senate Republicans, leaving local governments to deal with the problem and forcing ratepayers to fund it.

"It's ridiculous, a no-win situation. They nickel and dime you to death," said one ratepayer.

Cardin argues expanding water projects will create tons of jobs. Republicans argue it will add to the national debt and they won't raise taxes to pay for it.


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