The taskforce to study the management and governance structure of the Baltimore City water and wastewater utility announced its members on July 20th. The taskforce will have the power to recommend changes to the management, ownership, and governance structure of the utility, which is owned and maintained by Baltimore city, used by residents and serviced by the city and Baltimore County. Employees are members of the City Union of Baltimore Local 800 (CUB) and Baltimore County Federation of Public Employees Local 4828 (BCFPE).
The legislation that created the task force was passed in the 2023 legislative session (SB 880). The taskforce will study the removal of ownership and maintenance of the utility by Baltimore city in favor of a yet-to-be-determined regionally governed utility, similar to the utility providing water services to Prince George’s and Montgomery County.
AFT and its unions, CUB and BCFPE, expressed a deep concern over what would happen to city and county employees who work for the water systems, and have partnered with civil rights and environmental groups - Food and Water Watch, the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, and Blue Water Baltimore - to sound the alarm.
The protections Baltimore residents have put in place to ensure a fair and equitable distribution of this vital resource - including plans to prevent tax sales for non-payment, and a guarantee that the water utility will not be privatized - could be erased. To protect Baltimore’s water, the coalition pointed out, community voices must be included on the taskforce, and privatization must be taken off the table. The state legislature rejected those amendments to the bill.
With the naming of taskforce members, four public hearing dates are scheduled in September and October. To make your concerns heard about the future of water in Baltimore, please contact Todd Reynolds, AFT-Maryland Political Coordinator, at email@example.com.