BALTIMORE, MD—This week, state and local officials named the members appointed to the Baltimore Regional Water Governance Task Force. The 13-member coalition is a diverse group of experts and stakeholders from across Baltimore City, Baltimore County, and the State of Maryland who aim to address pressing water-related challenges in the region and foster sustainable solutions.
Created by an act of the General Assembly this past session, the task force is charged with making recommendations to modernize the governance of the region’s water and wastewater utilities — that currently operate under half-century old agreements — to help ensure residents efficiently, equitably, and sustainably receive high-quality water and sewerage services.
The Task Force will consist of the following 13 appointees announced this week:
Five members named by Baltimore City Mayor Brandon M. Scott:
- Baltimore City Comptroller Bill Henry—who will serve as Task Force Chair
- Lester Davis, Vice President, Chief of Staff of CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield
- Jason Mitchell, Former Director of the Baltimore City Department of Public Works (DPW)
- Patrick Moran, President, AFSCME Council 3
- Kishia L. Powell, General Manager/CEO, Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission (WSSC) Water
Three members named by Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski:
- Lauren Buckler, P.E., CEM, LEED AP, Deputy Director, Baltimore County Department of Public Works & Transportation
- Carla A. Reid, former General Manager, Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission (WSSC) Water
- Robert M. Summers, Ph.D, former Maryland Secretary of the Environment
Two members named by Governor Wes Moore:
- Timothy Barr, Managing Director, Water/Wastewater, Maryland Environmental Service
- Jessica Medicus, Environmental Manager, Bay Associates Environmental, Inc.
One member of the State Senate named by Senate President Bill Ferguson:
- Senator Cory McCray, District 45, Deputy Majority Whip
One member of the House of Delegates named by Speaker of the House Adrienne Jones:
- Delegate Dana Stein, District 11B, Vice-Chair, Environment and Transportation Committee
One member named by the Chair of the Baltimore Metropolitan Council:
- Yosef Kebede, Director, Howard County Department of Public Works
“Safe drinking water and a clean environment are basic rights,” said Governor Wes Moore. “I am committed to working with Mayor Scott, County Executive Olszewski, and other regional partners to make sure that our water system in the Baltimore region is a national model.”
The Baltimore Regional Water Governance Task Force brings together individuals from various fields, each contributing unique perspectives and expertise. They were selected for their extensive knowledge, experience, and commitment to water sustainability.
Together, they will collaborate on identifying challenges, developing strategies, and implementing initiatives that will safeguard our water resources for future generations.
“Charting a shared vision for modern, efficient, and equitable water and wastewater systems that reflect our region’s incredible growth is a priority for my administration, and I am confident that this talented team will together formulate recommendations for a plan that will best – and most efficiently – serve our residents,” said Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski. “This impressive group brings together an abundance of talent, experience and institutional knowledge – I am grateful for their selfless work and look forward to together building a world-class regional system for future generations.”
“The Baltimore region’s water system is one of our city’s greatest assets, and I’m confident that each of the 13 members selected for this task force will work hand-in-hand with residents and communities to strengthen our water system for the future,” said Mayor Brandon M. Scott. “The taskforce members we’re announcing today are bringing not just their expertise, but also their deep love and dedication to the Baltimore region. The collective nature of their work sends a signal that every stakeholder knows that secure, resilient, and equitable water management is critical for everyone in our region.”
“Ensuring the safe and reliable operation of the Greater Baltimore Region’s water system is absolutely vital,” said Senate President Bill Ferguson. “This multi-jurisdictional approach will be pivotal to determining the most sustainable mechanism for supporting aging infrastructure and treatment plants. After we’ve experienced too many threats to this legacy infrastructure, now is the time to make critical decisions about the long-term future of this system. Sen. Cory McCray will represent the Senate well on this task force, and I am confident he will help build the plan to modernize the governance and delivery of our water system in the region.”
“Today’s announcement proves what is possible when state and local government leaders work collaboratively to resolve an issue vital to the public health and environmental interests of Baltimore County and Baltimore City,” said Maryland House Speaker Adrienne A. Jones. “As a leader in the House of Delegates on environmental policy, I know Delegate Dana Stein will be a valuable voice as we seek to modernize the Baltimore region’s water and wastewater systems.”
“Ensuring that every person has access to clean, safe and reliable drinking water is essential to the prosperity of our state and region,” said Howard County Executive Calvin Ball, who also serves as Chair of the Baltimore Metropolitan Council. “I am confident that this task force will leverage its deep and varied subject matter expertise to develop recommendations that safeguard our water resources for current and future generations. Together, our region’s water system can be a national model of leadership.”
Currently, residents of both Baltimore City and Baltimore County jurisdictions are served by water and wastewater systems managed by the Baltimore City Department of Public Works. Under an agreement that dates back to 1972, Baltimore City bills all customers for water use. According to the agreement that governs the shared sewer system, each jurisdiction bills its own residents for sewer charges and other related charges.
The regional drinking water and wastewater systems, owned and operated primarily by Baltimore City, now serve as many as 1.8 million residents across Baltimore City, Baltimore County and other surrounding jurisdictions. However, under existing State law, Baltimore City bears the sole responsibility for the water supply and wastewater operations, maintenance, and capital investments, while Baltimore County is the sole surrounding jurisdiction paying a proportionate share of these costs.
Due to regional population growth and the growing complexity of the utilities, in 2021, City and County officials jointly-released a comprehensive review of the shared water and wastewater systems‘ existing operations, processes and procedures for Baltimore County and Baltimore City property owners.
The study identified opportunities for improving communications, data sharing, capital planning, and business processes between the jurisdictions and included the recommendation that Baltimore City and Baltimore County explore additional regional solutions, including potential alternative governance models, to help ensure the long-term quality, efficiency and equity of water and wastewater services, and improve customer experiences across the region.
Specifically, the Baltimore Regional Water Governance Task Force will:
- Review the findings of the 2021 Comprehensive Business Process Review and other existing regional water and wastewater governance models;
- Assess alternative governance structures for the Baltimore Region’s current water and wastewater utility;
- Analyze the fiscal implications and efficiencies of each alternative governance structure; and
- Recommend the governance model best suited for the Baltimore region’s water and wastewater utility in order to improve management, operations, billing, capital planning, and rate stability for customers.
The first meeting of the Baltimore Regional Water Governance Task Force will be held in early September. A schedule for future meetings will be available online.
The Baltimore Regional Water Governance Task Force will submit their final recommendations to the Governor, Speaker of the House, President of the Senate, the Mayor of Baltimore City and the County Executive of Baltimore County by January 2024.
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