Today, the Baltimore City Council voted unanimously to pass the Water Accountability and Equity Act, a sweeping overhaul of the city’s outdated water billing system. It sets up a percentage-of-income affordability program for low-income households, a customer advocate’s office with a mission of promoting fairness to customers, and a structure for appealing high bills and other problems commonly faced by customers. Mayor Bernard “Jack” Young introduced the bill last December when he was city council president and plans to sign the bill into law.
Baltimore has become the second city after Philadelphia to set up a percentage-of-income water affordability program. Detroit and Chicago are considering similar legislative efforts, and as the nation’s water affordability crisis deepens, other communities will likely pursue this model.