BALTIMORE, MD — The Maryland House of Delegates recently passed a bill halting the sale of homes and businesses for failure to pay a water bill. Although this bill was effectively killed by the Maryland Senate’s refusal to vote, this legislation speaks to a horrible problem facing those living in greater Baltimore. In the past few years, over 1,700 families have had their homes or rental units sold for failure to pay water bills.
Baltimore City officials took budgeted money meant for repair of the water infrastructure and gave it to local business for tax breaks. Now, the water system, which was not maintained, broke apart when temperatures dipped into single digits. There are still 500 people without water three weeks after the cold weather. The City now uses the fire department to deliver bottled water to those whose public plumbing is still broken. This is a very costly way to provide water.
Water bills in Baltimore have quadrupled since 2000. Local activist Eddy Conway says this is modern slavery. He showed that Baltimore City paid $50 million in loans and $40 million in fees to New York banks for previous loans to repair the water infrastructure. People must have water and the increased prices are beyond what average income families can pay. Our personal and public assets are being sucked up by greedy capitalists who want to own all of the water.
We must have a society that takes care of its members. Water is necessary for life and should be guaranteed for all regardless of their ability to pay. It is time we put greed aside and endorsed cooperation for the common good in water and all aspects of life.