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Baltimore City Water


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#1 yuca

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Posted 22 May 2008 - 09:23 AM

I'm sure this has been talked about here many times before, but I have to ask again... Why is Baltimore City water so expensive?

I have a "small" meter, so I typically get charged around $60 every 3 months. Even if I consume NO water, I think I still get charged a minimum of around $50.

I have a friend who lives in the city and has a slightly "larger" meter in his home. He hardly uses any water and gets charged almost $100 every 3 months.

That's a lot of money for water, considering how much cheaper it is in the rest of MD. I also heard somewhere that Baltimore City water is cheaper than that of most other cities. Has anyone seen any stats to back this claim up?

#2 BRsunshine

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Posted 22 May 2008 - 09:25 AM

Holy cow! I live in the county, and my bill runs around $15 every 3 months.
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#3 NOTAGUNNUT

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Posted 22 May 2008 - 09:25 AM

Depends on where you live.

It's cheap in Baltimore County.

It's more expensive in the city.

It's outrageous in Carroll County.

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#4 sonofboh

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Posted 22 May 2008 - 09:25 AM

I'm sure this has been talked about here many times before, but I have to ask again... Why is Baltimore City water so expensive?

I have a "small" meter, so I typically get charged around $60 per month. Even if I consume NO water, I think I still get charged a minimum of around $50.

I have a friend with a slightly "larger" meter, and if he hardly uses any water and gets charged almost $100 a month.

That's a lot of money for water, considering how much cheaper it is in the rest of MD. I also heard somewhere that Baltimore City water is cheaper than that of most other cities. Has anyone seen any stats to back this claim up?


you might have an issue there, i have two adults living with me, thats a lot of showers and a ton of laundry per month. and i pay around $90 every three months. so i guess thats $30 a month. do you leave the toilet running?
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#5 yuca

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Posted 22 May 2008 - 09:29 AM

you might have an issue there, i have two adults living with me, thats a lot of showers and a ton of laundry per month. and i pay around $90 every three months. so i guess thats $30 a month. do you leave the toilet running?

Sorry, I made a mistake and corrected my post. I actually meant every three months. It's still very expensive compared to the county.

Everyone I know in Baltimore County is paying around $15 every three months. I don't get the city's "minimum consumption" bit. If I went on vacation for the next 3 months, my bill would still be $50-$60. I don't get that.

#6 NOTAGUNNUT

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Posted 22 May 2008 - 09:37 AM

Sorry, I made a mistake and corrected my post. I actually meant every three months. It's still very expensive compared to the county.

Everyone I know in Baltimore County is paying around $15 every three months. I don't get the city's "minimum consumption" bit. If I went on vacation for the next 3 months, my bill would still be $50-$60. I don't get that.



The city made a deal to provide cheap water to the County in order to aquire the land to build the resivoirs on.;)

Here's an interesting page on the subject.
http://www.baltometr...nt/view/10/124/

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#7 sonofboh

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Posted 22 May 2008 - 09:38 AM

Sorry, I made a mistake and corrected my post. I actually meant every three months. It's still very expensive compared to the county.

Everyone I know in Baltimore County is paying around $15 every three months. I don't get the city's "minimum consumption" bit. If I went on vacation for the next 3 months, my bill would still be $50-$60. I don't get that.


well, how do you think the people in housing projects get their water? think the city sends them a bill every 3 months?
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#8 Anne68

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Posted 22 May 2008 - 09:39 AM

I live in Balto Co and have a well. I'd be very happy to pay $100/3 months and have public water.

I have a severe iron issue with my well. We also have sediment issues. I have a treatment system so I have to put chemicals in about every 3 weeks ($7.50/gal of sodium hydroxide. I also have to change filters (for odor/taste) every 3 months and I think those cost about $75.

Tomorrow I will pay about $500+ to have the well pump raised to hopefully correct sediment issues.

Also, if the power goes out and you don't have a generator, you have no water. If you're in the middle of a shower and you lose power, you better move immediately to rinse cycle or you're going to have some big trouble when that water stops!!!!

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#9 Anne68

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Posted 22 May 2008 - 09:41 AM

well, how do you think the people in housing projects get their water? think the city sends them a bill every 3 months?


Yikes! Never thought about that one. :mad:

It's such a shame that a decent sized segment of the population is willing to live on the public dole while an even bigger segment of the population continues to vote in the same boneheads that promise to give away even more at taxpayer's expense. Grrrrr.... :mad:

#10 AaronMeisner

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Posted 22 May 2008 - 09:56 AM

Yikes! Never thought about that one. :mad:

It's such a shame that a decent sized segment of the population is willing to live on the public dole while an even bigger segment of the population continues to vote in the same boneheads that promise to give away even more at taxpayer's expense. Grrrrr.... :mad:


Baltimore's public housing program currently serves 20,000 people. The population of the City is estimated at 631,000. So you are talking about 3.16%. This is obviously not enough of a factor to drive up the overall cost of water by any meaningful amount.

Could the problem have more to do with the fact that most of Baltimore was built between 1800 and 1960 and is thus between 70 and 200 years old? I believe that crews still dig up wooden water pipes serving older neighborhoods. It simply costs money to maintain the infrastructure, and to upgrade it to meet federal standards.

It is amazing how so many threads end at the same conclusion: poor people are causing all of our problems. It really harkens back to some of the darkest days of human history.

#11 Baltimatt

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Posted 22 May 2008 - 09:56 AM

Baltimore's water bills also include a charge for sewage. I think the County charges separately on the tax bills. Plus, the city has promised the EPA to fix leaky sewage pipes, which is why water rates have gone up.
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#12 sonofboh

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Posted 22 May 2008 - 09:59 AM

Baltimore's public housing program currently serves 20,000 people. The population of the City is estimated at 631,000. So you are talking about 3.16%. This is obviously not enough of a factor to drive up the overall cost of water by any meaningful amount.

Could the problem have more to do with the fact that most of Baltimore was built between 1800 and 1960 and is thus between 70 and 200 years old? I believe that crews still dig up wooden water pipes serving older neighborhoods. It simply costs money to maintain the infrastructure, and to upgrade it to meet federal standards.

It is amazing how so many threads end at the same conclusion: poor people are causing all of our problems. It really harkens back to some of the darkest days of human history.


well, lets take a look at that one. i pay about $30 a month, i think thats average. whats $30 X 20,000 per month?
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#13 yuca

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Posted 22 May 2008 - 10:02 AM

Could the problem have more to do with the fact that most of Baltimore was built between 1800 and 1960 and is thus between 70 and 200 years old? I believe that crews still dig up wooden water pipes serving older neighborhoods. It simply costs money to maintain the infrastructure, and to upgrade it to meet federal standards.

I'm sure that has something to do with it. But if I had the 1/2 inch meter (I think that's the size), where the charge is almost $100 every 3 months, and I used absolutely no water for a whole year, I still would pay almost a $400 "minimum charge" simply to have the service.

Again, that is a lot of money for water I'm not using. And if there are sewer charges to go along with that as well...

#14 techbalt

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Posted 22 May 2008 - 10:11 AM

I firmly believe that part of Baltimore City water billing is a scam. One quarter I was billed over 3 times what I usually paid. The next quarter and every quarter after that the bill and supposed usage number went back to normal. I appealed the bill and won but the guys at the board told me this was my one appeal and they were not going to do this for me again. I had no leaks and nothing changed in my consumption pattern so either the problem magically fixed itself or there was never a problem and the City Just randomly over-bills you sometimes and if you do not have the time to appeal it then too bad. There was a lot of of work going on with water pipes a few blocks away from me during the quarter in question but the board told me this had nothing to do with it...
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#15 AaronMeisner

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Posted 22 May 2008 - 10:11 AM

Whether you use water or not, the city still needs to meet the federal standards for the supply pipes running under your street. That costs money.

#16 leon

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Posted 22 May 2008 - 10:14 AM

Baltimore's water bills also include a charge for sewage. I think the County charges separately on the tax bills. Plus, the city has promised the EPA to fix leaky sewage pipes, which is why water rates have gone up.


The water bill includes sewer and trash collection. The city's infrastructure is old and in need of maintenance; it was one of the first modern water systems in the US.

Compared to living in AZ and CA, Baltimore water is cheap (and even tastes fairly good).

Apparently there have been issues in the past with water billing, clerical error etc. You may want to keep tabs on that yourself. There is a reader on the meter. The bolt for the plate is a special 5 sided brass bolt and the wrench is very hard to get (they only want official people to have them); use a pair of channel locks to grip the bolt and turn it (probably only a 1/2 turn) to gian access. This is also where the cut off valve is; it is good to know where this stuff is in case you need to shut off the water and your whole house supply valve is frozen (I've seen this before, never trust galvanized pipe/valves either).

#17 leon

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Posted 22 May 2008 - 10:17 AM

I firmly believe that part of Baltimore City water billing is a scam. One quarter I was billed over 3 times what I usually paid. The next quarter and every quarter after that the bill and supposed usage number went back to normal. I appealed the bill and won but the guys at the board told me this was my one appeal and they were not going to do this for me again. I had no leaks and nothing changed in my consumption pattern so either the problem magically fixed itself or there was never a problem and the City Just randomly over-bills you sometimes and if you do not have the time to appeal it then too bad. There was a lot of of work going on with water pipes a few blocks away from me during the quarter in question but the board told me this had nothing to do with it...


I have heard stories like yours before but never that you only get one appeal. Too bad its nickel and dime stuff; one appeal is BS and something a lawyer coudl probably help with (but probably for more than the billing overage), but using leverage woudl hopefully prompt the city beauracracy to get off its hind quarters and help out.

#18 RavensDomination

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Posted 22 May 2008 - 10:21 AM

It's super cheap in Baltimore County, but I am SURE that will be changing very soon. They'll think of some piss poor excuse...

#19 yuca

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Posted 22 May 2008 - 10:24 AM

I firmly believe that part of Baltimore City water billing is a scam.

I think so, too. I saw this article in the City Paper's website. Sounds very similar to your case.

Whether you use water or not, the city still needs to meet the federal standards for the supply pipes running under your street. That costs money.

What bothers me more than anything is not just the high cost of a water bill, but also the fact that I am forced to pay a minimum charge every 3 months, which includes a certain amount of water consumption. This does not encourage water conservation at all.

If I decide to do everything I can to conserve water, it will make no difference on my water bill. I will still pay around $60 or $100 per quarter, depending on the size of the meter.

There is something very wrong with this practice.

#20 AaronMeisner

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Posted 22 May 2008 - 10:40 AM

This does not encourage water conservation at all.

If I decide to do everything I can to conserve water, it will make no difference on my water bill. I will still pay around $60 or $100 per quarter, depending on the size of the meter.

There is something very wrong with this practice.


Good point. We recently witnessed a very effective conservation program that seems to be working very well and really getting people enthusiastically focused on using fewer resources. It's called four dollar gas. Let's be careful what we wish for! :)