Hanlon Park scoured by bulldozers as nearly 200 trees are ripped out. Druid Lake partially drained and temporarily dammed. Heavy equipment rumbling through two historic parks, all for the same end:
The burial of four massive underground water tanks.
“This was [once] the most wooded area of the Ashburton Northwest Baltimore community,” said The Brew’s Mark Reutter, speaking with WYPR’s Tom Pelton, as construction crews worked away behind them.
Holes the size of city blocks are now being excavated for tanks at Druid Hill Park and Hanlon Park to replace open drinking-water reservoirs and comply with EPA regulations.
But building the underground tanks weren’t the only solution available to protect drinking water reservoirs from possible contamination by bird waste or other sources.
Relying on Reutter’s extensive reporting, Pelton notes that the tanks are almost $200 million more expensive than another treatment process.
Both EPA and the Maryland Department of the Environment gave Baltimore permission in 2009 to use the cheaper and less disruptive ultraviolet (UV) disinfection alternative.
But after taking over as chief of the water bureau in 2010, Chow scrapped the approved plan and instead ordered the instillation of water tanks, Reutter explains.
Listen to the piece to hear how a DPW spokesman makes the case for the project (“These tanks will be the ultimate solution”), while a resident comes to a different conclusion (“No, it wasn’t necessary”):
Baltimore paid almost $200 million too much for massive drinking water project (Tom Pelton, The Environment in Focus, aired 10/23/19)