City officials say they have “turned a corner” in restoring water pressure to the Poe Homes public housing complex in West Baltimore.
Ingrid Antonio, spokeswoman for the Housing Authority of Baltimore City, said city inspectors are finding consistent water pressure of around 40 pounds per square inch during quality checks of units in the complex, adding, “with confidence,” that service has been restored in some capacity to all of the complex.
Water pressure of 40 to 45 pounds per square inch is considered typical for residential use by Popular Mechanics.
Residents of the 300-unit complex had been without water service after a June 17 water main break. They’ve been forced to take showers and wash clothes off-site as well as use bottled water for drinking.
In a statement, Janet Abrahams, executive director of the city’s housing authority, thanked the complex’s residents “for their understanding” as the authority announced that water service had been restored.
“We responded to the emergency situation with a methodical overwhelming effort to ensure that our residents were as comfortable as possible given the circumstances,” Abrahams wrote.
Officials canvassed the apartments Tuesday, and several residents indicated that water function had returned, if not fully.
Resident Memi Lewter, who’s lived at Poe Homes for more than five years, said she’s seen water slowly return to a steady pressure at her unit over the past week, allowing her to now wash her clothes and take a shower.
“It’s enough not to annoy me,” she added. However, she said, it’s still “not at full force” and that some residents in neighboring units have reported brown water coming from their faucet.
“My water is clear, but I’m not drinking it,” said Lewter, adding that while some have said it could be rust that just needs to work its way out of the pipes, she is going to await word from the city.
Contractors also were to replace the last 10 energy-efficient, low-flow toilets at the complex by the end of Tuesday, Antonio said. The city had installed such toilets at the complex last week, but residents complained they would not flush, prompting city officials to remove them and replace them with regular-flow toilets.
On Monday, Council President Brandon Scott formally called city agencies to a hearing on their response to the outage, which affected 281 residents, according to the Housing Authority.
In a statement, Scott had said it was “unacceptable for residents to be without water for this long.”
Asked for a response Tuesday to the new developments, Scott said he was pleased to learn about the progress but still wants hearings on various agencies’ responses to the water main break.
“I’m pleased that they have turned a corner and seem to be near completion to be able to get (water) back up and running,” he said. “But also, and equally as important, is what practices and policies are in place so that this doesn’t happen again?