Officials would not provide a copy of the report they submitted to the EPA, which they said is still in a working phase.
Rawlings-Blake — who helped bring the EPA to the planning table with cities across the U.S. through her work with the Water Council — said the city has asked the EPA to allow forward-looking water main replacements to be prioritized alongside federally mandated projects.
The EPA's current "lack of flexibility" is frustrating, the mayor said, but she's hopeful the new plan just submitted by the city will be helpful.
David Sternberg, an EPA spokesman, confirmed the agency is reviewing the city's plan and intends to meet with Baltimore officials soon, but declined to comment further.
Chow said he hopes Baltimore and its partners — Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Carroll, Harford and Howard counties — will reach a period where proactive project successes outnumber reactive disaster responses. A key to reaching that goal, he said, is having the counties agree to take more of a stakeholder role, as opposed to a customer role.
He and county leaders expressed confidence that an agreement will be reached, though details about how county contributions to the system will change have not been determined.
"I think everybody's heart and head is in the right direction, it's just the mechanism of getting something on paper that we can sign and live by," said Jim Irvin, director of the Howard County Public Works Department. "And thankfully, there seems at this point to be some progress being made."
Recent city efforts on water needs:
Developing a utility asset management division that will use predictive modeling to better locate vulnerabilities.
Negotiating with suburban counties that use the city water system to increase systemwide cost sharing.
Submitting an integrated planning framework model to the Environmental Protection Agency arguing for more leeway in balancing mandates from the agency under the Clean Water Act with the immediate demands an aging system.
Rolling out a new remediation fee for stormwater management, as was required by the state last year, creating a designated stream of operating revenue to deal with trash and other pollutants making their way into the Chesapeake Bay.
Water by the numbers