WSSC Water approved on Wednesday more than $400 million in contracts to upgrade and improve aging water and sewer infrastructure in Maryland’s Montgomery and Prince George’s counties.
That includes two $200 million contracts to rehabilitate sewer pipes across Montgomery and Prince George’s counties, along with two contracts totaling nearly $60 million to replace water mains along Allentown Road and Old Branch Avenue in Prince George’s County.
“With approximately 45% of our 11,000 miles of water and sewer mains over 50 years old, replacing our aging buried assets remains a top priority for us,” WSSC Water General Manager and CEO Carla A. Reid said in a news release. “Investing in water and sewer infrastructure protects public health and safety, creates jobs and drives economic development.”
WSSC Water’s fiscal 2023 preliminary proposed budget was also unanimously approved by commissioners on Wednesday to submit to county governments for public hearings.
The $1.59 billion proposed budget is based on a 7% average rate increase. That means a typical customer with a family of three, using 55 gallons of water per person per day, would see a quarterly increase of $16.99 in its bill.
The budget will include what WSSC calls “significant cuts” in the wake of COVID-19’s financial impact — about $23.1 million. WSSC said it has lost about $130 million in revenue over the past two fiscal years, requiring budget cuts of roughly $150 million in fiscal 2020 through 2022.
Currently, one in five customers is past due on WSSC bills, resulting in more than 90,000 delinquent accounts totaling more than $70 million in arrears.
“The cuts to this budget are deep and will be felt by our customers,” said Reid. “But let me stress that we will continue our 103-year track record of protecting public health and safety by providing safe, clean and reliable water.”
WSSC Water is among the largest water and wastewater utilities in the nation, serving 1.8 million residents over an area that spans nearly 1,000 square miles in Prince George’s and Montgomery counties.
WSSC Water will hold two public hearings on the proposed budget: One will be held at 7 p.m. on Feb. 2 at the Department of the Environment Building at 1801 McCormick Drive in Largo. The other will be held at 7 p.m. on Feb. 3 at the Stella B. Werner Office Building at 100 Maryland Ave. in Rockville.
The meetings are currently planned as in-person meetings, but there will be a livestream viewing option. Visit wsscwater.com/fin for details or changes.