As we've seen in Flint, Michigan, failure to provide safe drinking water is criminal.
“We have filed 51 criminal charges against 15 current or former state officials. And today, I'm announcing charges against two new individuals and additional charges for four others,” said Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette during a news conference on Wednesday.
Water in Baltimore City already meets federal standards for tap water, however, the Department of Public Works is making some changes. On Wednesday, they started worked on a major five-year $140 million project to install new underground water tanks at Druid Lake.
The two tanks will hold over 54 million gallons of water. Storing water in the tanks better protects the drinking water supply and complies with federal regulations.
The Safe Drinking Water Act now requires that finished drinking water stored in uncovered reservoirs be protected from any potential environmental contaminants such as waste from birds or disease-carrying insects.
“We get to further protect the water and from a security standpoint, homeland security perspective that's a great enhancement as well,” said Rudy Chow, director of Baltimore City Department of Public Works.
Federal regulations also allow for water systems to additionally treat finished water in uncovered reservoirs, but the City decided that storing it in two massive tanks underground is a better long-term option.
“Chlorine could be cancer-causing if you overdose or anything like that, so the fact that we can store it so we don't have to add additional chlorine or disinfectant to it and to keep the water to the purest state, I think is great for everyone,” Chow said.
The modifications to the nearly 150-year-old reservoir are expected to be complete by March 2022.
The water tanks will be installed on the western end of Druid Lake. The lake will have to be smaller, but it'll allow DPW to open it up for recreation.
They also plan to expand the promenade, add an amphitheater, and create new green spaces.
“Today is groundbreaking. This is something we've been working on for the last six years from conceptual to today – working with neighborhood citizens, associations, with elected officials. We think this is an awesome project that’ll turn out to be a win-win for everyone,” said Chow.
DPW provides drinking water to 1.8 million customers. Currently, there are three uncovered finished-water reservoirs including Druid Lake. Guilford Reservoir is also being converted to underground tanks. The project is expected to be complete by spring 2019.