Baltimore Department of Public Works crews were working to fix a water main break near the Canton waterfront Monday night that left customers in four zip codes without water.
It was not clear as of about 11 p.m. how many customers were affected, though public works spokesman Kurt Kocher said it was thousands. Water issues were first reported about 8:30 p.m., Kocher said. There was no estimate yet for when the water service would be restored.
Authorities believe the broken main is near the 3400 block of Holabird Avenue, and is either a 36-inch or 48-inch main, Kocher said. A water tank in Curtis Bay was nearly drained, Kocher said, and Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center was facing low water pressure.
Affected were customers in zip codes 21226, 21224, 21205 and 21220, and the water outages were mainly in the areas of Canton, Cherry Hill, Curtis Bay, Brooklyn and Brooklyn Park, Kocher said.
Kocher said crews were trying to redirect water from other mains to the affected customers, and are asking those in the affected areas and the surrounding areas to conserve water for the time being. Residents were advised to not drink water if it appears brown or cloudy.
The public works department expects to spend about $300 million over the next five years fixing its aging water infrastructure, which includes many pipes that are more than 100 years old, Kocher said.
Linda Stewart, an activist who tracks the city's water billing, was one of the customers affected by the outage Monday night. She said the department should have been doing more over the past three decades to upgrade the infrastructure instead of waiting to step up those fixes now. Stewart also said she never sees any of the new infrastructure the public works department touts, just repairs when existing water lines break.
"Where's the money gone in the past 30 years?" she said. "There's no excuse for not maintaining this, and it's going to get worse."
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