Baltimore City, County, And State Leaders Unveil 13-Member Water Governance Task Force
BALTIMORE COUNTY - A group of 13 experts and stakeholders across Baltimore City, Baltimore County, and the State of Maryland were selected for the first Regional Water Governance Task Force on Thursday.
The task force aims to review the 2021 Comprehensive Business Process Review findings, assess alternative governance structures, analyze fiscal implications and efficiencies of each alternative, and recommend the most suitable governance model for the Baltimore region's water and wastewater utilities.
“The Baltimore region’s water system is one of our city’s greatest assets," said Mayor Brandon M. Scott. “The task force members we’re announcing today are bringing not just their expertise, but also their deep love and dedication to the Baltimore region."
Baltimore City owns and operates the regional water and wastewater system. Under an agreement dating back to 1972, the city bills all customers for water use, while each jurisdiction bills its own residents for sewer charges and other related charges.
Despite serving as many as 1.8 million residents across Baltimore City, Baltimore County, and other surrounding jurisdictions, Baltimore City bears the sole responsibility for water supply and wastewater operations, maintenance, and capital investments under existing State law. Baltimore County is the only surrounding jurisdiction that pays a proportionate share of these costs.
Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski pushed hard for the task force's creation, repeatedly expressing his concerns and frustration with how Baltimore City operated the system. Specifically, operations at the Back River Wastewater Treatment Plant in Dundalk have been the target of criticism from several county officials.
Baltimore City operates the plant, but it sits within a county community and routinely dumps nutrients and bacteria into the county's Back River. Other issues with the plant include the March 15 explosion and the "catastrophic failures" identified in 2022.
The Baltimore Regional Water Governance Task Force will consist of the following 13 appointees:
- 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
The task force's first meeting will be held in early September. The final recommendations will be submitted 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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