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BOE approves modified wastewater consent decree

WYPR-Tom Pelton

The Board of Estimates agreed today to changes in a 15-year-old consent decree with the Environmental Protection Agency that gives the city more time to fix its troubled sewer system. But, not everyone was happy with it.

The revised decree gives the city until 2021 to upgrade the Back River wastewater treatment plant. And it gives the city nine years after that to make fixes to eliminate 83 percent of the sewage overflowing the system.

The Department of Public Works estimates the project will cost the city more than a billion dollars. But that didn’t completely satisfy members of the Northwest Community Association, who have had sewage leaking into their homes for the past ten years.

“No we are not against it because the system needs to be redone," says Derrick Lennon of the Northwest group. "But the thing is if don’t put a halt to somethings causing these back-ups.”

They want the city to place a moratorium on any new construction near the Jones Falls.

"When people are sitting in their basement and sewage is rushing in, I mean we have to do something about it. And so far the city has not done anything to compensate these people at all," says Lennon.

Elena Hicks, Lennon’s neighbor, says she spent $4400 of her own money to clean up the mess in her house. Spokesperson for the DPW says that public comments can sent to the department or the federal EPA.

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