Council president offers sharp words for agencies, calls hearing about Poe Homes water outage

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With residents of West Baltimore’s Poe Homes public housing complex still lacking adequate water service one week since disruptions began, Baltimore City Council President Brandon Scott today called on agencies to respond to the crisis and formulate a plan to handle future ones.

Scott said at the council’s full meeting Monday night that he still has not heard from Baltimore City Department of Public Works Director Rudy Chow about the service outages, which have left the public housing complex without adequate running water for eight days now due to a broken water main. Rather, he said, he learned about it via social media.

While noting Baltimore’s ever-present struggles with and ongoing upgrades to its aged water infrastructure, Scott said the response and notifications from agencies have been “unacceptable.”

“It seems to me that the practices and protocols for these types of incidents are either non-existent, lacking or not being followed.”

He introduced a resolution, backed by the rest of the council, calling for an informational hearing with reps from DPW, the Department of Housing and Community Development, the Housing Authority of Baltimore City, the Baltimore City Public School System, the Department of Recreation and Parks and the Baltimore City Health Department about how to handle such situations.

Scott said he wants them to craft an action plan “so that no Baltimorean is subjected to what the residents of Poe Homes are being subjected to in the future.”

WMAR 2 reported today that while DPW has a temporary bypass in place for the valve break, many residents still have little to no water pressure. HABC has reportedly been distributing water, buckets and wellness kits, and residents without running water have been relocated to hotel rooms. The University of Maryland-Baltimore is allowing residents to use its dorms to shower.

HABC reportedly installed eco-friendly, high-efficiency toilets two weeks ago, but has found with their smaller tanks, they are more sensitive to low water pressure than the ones they replaced. The agency has now begun replacing those with low-flow, conventional toilets.

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Ethan McLeod

Senior Editor at Baltimore Fishbowl
Ethan has been editing and reporting for Baltimore Fishbowl since fall of 2016. His previous stops include Fox 45, CQ Researcher and Connection Newspapers in Virginia. His freelance writing has been featured in CityLab, Slate, Baltimore City Paper, DCist and elsewhere.
Ethan McLeod
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