Privatization no sure fix for Baltimore’s water system | READER COMMENTARY
For The Baltimore Sun|
Feb 06, 2020 | 5:44 PM
I would like to offer a differing perspective to the one presented by Robert Powelson’s in his recent commentary (“Privatization could improve Baltimore’s troubled water system,” Feb. 5). I agree with Mr. Powelson’s assessment that the Department of Public Works has so far failed to properly manage the city’s water and sewage systems. However, privatizing Baltimore’s water system may be an even more costly solution to an already costly public problem.
Originally constructed after the Great Baltimore Fire of 1904, the city’s water system has been long overdue for a makeover. However, repairing this dated and neglected water system would prove to be an astronomically costly undertaking for any private firm that seeks to do so. Overhauling a system this large would absolutely surpass the cash-in-hand available to most private companies and would likely require loans to cover project costs. As with all loans, the initial investment will need to be paid back with interest. These enormous upfront costs, along with the pressure to repay investors, could encourage a private water company to heighten water usage rates on Baltimore’s residents well beyond current rates.
The indirect costs of this project would also prove costly to city residents. Long-term construction projects such as this spark images of ripped up roads, heavier traffic and longer commute times. These problems present a new host of issues to Baltimoreans attempting to get to work on time, perform daily errands or pick their children up from school. Prolonged levels of high congestion would even diminish the appeal of visiting many of Baltimore’s downtown establishments and sporting events for many tourists to the area.
In this instance, I think it is wise for the people of Baltimore to be cautious of privatizing the city’s water system.