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DPW takes steps to protect public health during COVID-19 pandemic, Loch Raven Drive to remain open

BALTIMORE, MD—During the Coronavirus outbreak (COVID-19), the Baltimore City Department of Public Works (which also handles drinking water for Baltimore County) has taken steps to:

  • Ensure the continued delivery of safe, clean drinking water
  • Protect the health and safety of our employees
  • Continue DPW’s essential services

DPW officials say their water filtration and disinfection process and testing procedures ensure that drinking water is free of viruses, including COVID-19. This also applies to the wastewater systems operated by DPW.

“As the primary provider of drinking water in the Baltimore region, the City of Baltimore wants to ensure residents that we have emergency plans in place to continue to provide high-quality drinking water,” Mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young said.

Mayor Young has reinforced that water service will not be shut off due to nonpayment, and that late fees will be waived while residents deal with the implications of the coronavirus. In addition, DPW continues to offer repayment plans for customers who fall behind in their water bills.

The City of Baltimore will only accept water bill and other payments online and by mail. DPW’s Customer Support and Services Walk-in Center, located on the first floor of the Abel Wolman Municipal Building, is closed to the public at this time. The Customer Support and Services Division will continue to address water billing concerns by phone and can be reached at 410-396-5398.

DPW is working daily with public health and regulatory partners to monitor the impact of the evolving COVID-19 outbreak. To support efforts to protect public health and our employees, DPW is taking the following steps:

  • DPW will not shut off water due to non-emergency water utility work.
  • DPW is postponing all public meetings, including community meetings and meetings to update residents on our construction projects.
  • DPW is accepting all permit applications online. In addition to DPW, this online permit submission also applies to the Departments of Transportation, Recreation & Parks, Health Department and Housing and Community Development.

Additionally, street sweeping operations have been suspended to accommodate the large number of residents required to telework. Parking violations will not be enforced.

At this time, DPW’s Bureau of Solid Waste will not be able to provide roll-off dumpsters for community-supported cleanup activities.

All residential sanitation and recycling collections are continuing. Residents continue to have access to drop-off services at convenience centers, the transfer stations and landfills.

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“To safeguard solid waste workers, we are following all advice from OSHA and the CDC, which includes providing gloves, masks, and eyewear. We are also expediting a contract for laundry services for solid waste workers so that they are not bringing contaminated clothing home,” Acting DPW Director Matthew W. Garbark said.

Due to the COVID-19 emergency response and the need to follow best practices of social distancing, the mayor’s spring cleanup has been cancelled.

“We appreciate all residents who take the time to clean their communities. Everyone can still do their part by keeping the area around their home or business clean of litter and debris,” said Acting DPW Director Garbark. “We look forward to the October 24th Fall Cleanup and encourage everyone to participate then!”

Crews are equipped with clean uniforms and protective gear, and will continue to collect curbside trash and recycling, and to respond to dirty alley and street requests.

In addition, the Spring GROW Center pop-ups are cancelled. Please check the DPW website for updates on rescheduling the pop-ups and other information.

Starting this Saturday, Loch Raven Drive (the section between Morgan Mill Road and Providence Road) will not be closed off to allow for recreational activities. The closure of Loch Raven Drive on Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. will be suspended until further notice. An average of 1,500 people per day gather along this roadway to walk and bike during the closure period. This sized gathering is contrary to guidance of safe-sized gatherings during the statewide COVID-19 response.

All roadways within and adjacent to Baltimore City’s reservoirs will remain open for normal traffic. In addition, all Right of Entry Permits for organized groups accessing any of Baltimore’s reservoirs (Loch Raven, Liberty, and Prettyboy) have been cancelled.

Any additional changes to DPW services and events will be announced publicly.

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