City leaders vote to keep ownership of water and sewer system

Baltimore, Md. (WMAR) -

Baltimore City leaders are taking a strong stance to keep ownership of the water and sewer system flowing through the city.

City Council voted unanimously to be tapped as the first in the country to prohibit the sale and lease of its water and sewer system.

Glen Middleton, the President of the Maryland Publics Employees Union, stood in support of the bill with other public works representatives.

 “The right to water is something that must never be privately managed but available to everyone in Baltimore democratically,” Middleton said.

Middleton said that not going private will also save dozens of jobs.

 “We would lose jobs if you did that you generally lose 30 percent of those jobs. And also it’s a vital public resource for the city of Baltimore.”

Mayor Catherine Pugh, who is expected to sign off on the bill, said that selling was never on the table.

 “I don’t care how folks will double down on trying to buy our water system,” Pugh said.  “It is not an option, It has never been an option under this administration.”

Some people shared concerns that going private would mean higher water bills.

 “Companies typically avoid serving low income areas where low water use and high bill collection are more common,” One woman said. “Furthermore, studies show that when water bills are privatized water bills for the typical household on average do not decrease but increase by 59 percent.”

No one was in opposition at the city council meeting.

“Put simply this charter amendment assured that Baltimore taxpayers aren’t in hung out to dry because of corporate greed,” City Council President Bernard “Jack” Young said.

The decision is now in the people’s hands in the November election.

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