Baltimore, MD -- Thursday, April 30th, at 11 AM the Taxation, Finance, and Economic Development Committee will hold an informational hearing on the implementation of the Water Accountability & Equity Act. The hearing will seek updates from the Department of Finance and the Department of Public Works on the Administration’s progress implementing the legislation.
The Department of Public Works has already missed a crucial deadline on the bill. The ordinance required the city to release for public comment draft rules and regulations to establish the water affordability program, but that April 13th deadline came and went without any information from the city.
The Water Accountability and Equity Act passed unanimously through the City Council on November 18th, 2019, and was signed into law by Mayor Young on January 13th, 2020. The legislation gave the Department of Public Works and the Mayor’s Administration 6 months to implement the legislation deadline for full implementation is July 13th. The bill creates the comprehensive, “Water for All” water affordability program, which caps water bills of low-income households at a percentage of income that they can afford to pay and includes a pathway out of water debt. The legislation also establishes the Office of the Customer Advocate, streamlining, and improving the water bill dispute resolution process.
The legislation is more crucial now more than ever, as Baltimore’s families are losing wages and jobs, and filing for unemployment in record numbers due to COVID-19. Access to safe, affordable water is critical to stop the spread of the virus through handwashing and other recommended hygiene practices. Over one-third of Baltimoreans were already struggling with unaffordable water bills -- being billed more than the United Nations standard for affordable water service, three percent of a family’s household income. Residents will receive even larger bills in May when the Department will issue one bill to cover March and April.
What: Virtual Webex Hearing - Implementing the Water Accountability & Equity Act
When: Thursday, April 30th at 11 am
Where: Event Web Address here
Event number: 715 775 314
Event password: Baltimore