www.baltimoresun.com/news/opinion/readersrespond/bs-ed-city-chow-letter-20130914,0,6175359.story

baltimoresun.com

Chow's travels benefit city water system

12:30 PM EDT, September 15, 2013

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There have been at least two articles recently in The Sun that referred to the active speaking and conference schedule of Rudy Chow, the operations director of Baltimore's water and wastewater utilities ("Extensive travels of city water chief outlined in documents Sept. 10). Mr. Chow has a solidly-established and well-earned reputation as a strong manager and a good engineer. The articles in The Sun (of which I am a reader for the past 50 years) suggest or infer that somehow or other Mr. Chow is negligent in meeting his duties or is junketing at customers' expense. Neither could be further from the truth, and his reputation is being unfairly sullied. Such insinuations are not worthy of The Sun.

Baltimore's water and sewer systems, which should be one of the crown jewels of the city, are in need of several billion dollars of upgrading and repairs. They are required to meet the increased regulatory standards that have been adopted to help clean up the Chesapeake Bay and to offset a half-century of deferred maintenance by a succession of negligent city administrations. I earn my living as a management consultant providing financial planning and management advice to water and wastewater utilities; I should make it very clear that I do not now and have not ever worked in such a capacity for the City of Baltimore.

Other municipal water and sewer systems would be well-served to have leaders who invest as much time in participating in industry conferences, which are chock-full of morning-to-evening technical sessions where participants learn much and concurrently meet continuing professional education requirements, and in speaking engagements that spread the word about the necessity of reinvesting in maintenance of infrastructure, which is the best way to keep water and sewer rates low over time. Frankly, it would be desirable and beneficial for elected officials who are the stewards of our infrastructure to participate in those same conferences and seminars as does Mr. Chow. If that had happened over the past decades, it is likely that Baltimore would not be facing the horrendous expenses now looming.

Edward J. Donahue III, Annapolis