Baltimore Sewage Project Is Great Opportunity for City, and for Contractors

Earlier this month, Baltimore City reached an agreement with federal and state environmental agencies that commits the city to greatly reduce the amount of sewage that overflows in Baltimore within less than five years.

The agreement is a modification to a 2002 consent decree between the Maryland Department of the Environment, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Justice and the city. It would set deadlines for completion of an estimated $2 billion in work by Baltimore City to improve its sewer system.

As a practical matter, this means that Baltimore is legally committed to major infrastructure projects to reduce sewer overflows. These are very large projects: Phase One is valued at about $1.4 billion, and Phase Two is valued at about $600 million. By the end of Phase One, the city will be required to eliminate a flow restriction at the Back River wastewater treatment plant and at the Jones Falls that causes sewage backups and leads to intentional sewer overflows at two locations.

Projects such as this will call for significant efforts by local utility contractors and subcontractors of all sorts, many of which will want to bid on these major infrastructure changes.

The utility contracting community, in fact, has been watching this development for some time and is concerned that Baltimore’s delay to date in moving ahead on the project will adversely affect the ability to do what needs to be done, in the time frames that apply.

Here at O’Riordan Bethel, Carol L. O’Riordan, our Managing Partner, is one of the founding members of NUCA of DC, the DC chapter of the national organization representing utility contractors, excavators, suppliers, manufacturers, and other providers in the water, sewer, gas, electric, telecommunications, treatment plant, and excavation industries.

In recent years, O’Riordan Bethel has fought on behalf of several NUCA of DC members who were seeking to get some of the work on this project and who wanted to ensure that the procurement process was handled fairly and that contracts were given out in accordance with regulation. The utility contracting community welcomes the city’s renewed commitment.  Qualified, committed local contractors stand ready to perform the work that will benefit the State of Maryland and the environment.

Debora Harvey, executive director of NUCA of DC, points out, “The members of NUCA of DC are qualified local contractors with crews ready to tackle this work immediately.  We stand committed to work with the city to improve wastewater infrastructure that is critical to the lives and health of the people that live and work in the city.”

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