Wednesday the Board of Estimates approved a $1.6 billion plan to upgrade Baltimore's aging sewer system.
The plan is part of a consent decree being worked out by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the city of Baltimore. It will replace an agreement the city made with the EPA in 2002.
Under the previous agreement the city missed a 2015 deadline to complete sewer upgrades and repairs. The new agreement requires the city to finish updates to the Back River \wastewater treatment plant by 2021. There is also a 2031 deadline to inspect and replace sewer mains. The work is necessary to stop millions of gallons of sewage from contaminating rivers and ultimately the Chesapeake Bay.
"There's a lot of work as we know that has to be done. We have to make sure our capacity at Backwater River is improved and that's going to happen with the headworks project," said Jeffrey Raymond with the Baltimore Department of Public Works. "We have to assess again once that happens, the size and capacity of our existing pipes."
The plan also requires the city to provide financial help if sewage backs up into homes or businesses. The DPW will determine who is eligible and the program is set to begin six months after the consent decree is approved by the court.