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Md. senator: Invest in water systems like roads, bridges

Tuesday - 8/13/2013, 4:12pm  ET

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WSSC engineer Bobby Trimble explains the filtration plant monitoring to Sen. Ben Cardin on Tuesday, Aug. 12. (WTOP/Megan Cloherty)

LAUREL, Md. - They turn roads into lakes and put a hamper on entire neighborhoods. Water main breaks are not only frustrating, but also expensive, costing the federal government billions each year, according to Maryland Sen. Ben Cardin.

On the heels of a major break that forced many living in southern Prince George's County to curtail their water usage at the height of the summer, there's help on the horizon, Cardin says.

While touring the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission filtration plant Tuesday, Sen. Cardin, D-Md., got straight to the point, emphasizing the country's need to reinvest in its aging water infrastructure.

"We've seen the Beltway close. We've seen River Road in Montgomery County turned into a river. All of that because of water main breaks," Cardin said.

In response, he is backing a new bill called a resiliency fund to supplement the federal funding water systems currently get. The matching grants will help modernize the system that needs improvements just like roads and bridges do, Cardin said.

While he's been touting water infrastructure improvement for years, Cardin admits the problem is the hold up in Congress.

"There has been a failure to expand our role in water infrastructure and transportation infrastructure because we haven't been able to put together a budget agreement," Cardin said.

The announcement is welcome by WSSC CEO Jerry Johnson who says he's aware of customers' frustrations with the periodic system shut downs.

"You can only shut down a certain amount the system in order to go in and make certain kinds of repairs. The schedule that we're on now will take us many, many years into the future as we replace the pipes in the system," Johnson said.

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