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The Dripby Brew Editors4:56 pmOct 23, 20190

WYPR re-examines one of Chow’s legacies – huge water tanks in city parks

Baltimore Brew’s Mark Reutter discusses with Tom Pelton our coverage of DPW’s disruption of two famous parks

Above: Mark Reutter has covered in depth the tank burial projects at Druid Hill Park (shown here) and Hanlon Park. (Tom Pelton)

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.

Today WYPR 88.1FM took a look at one of the most controversial projects undertaken by Public Works Director Rudy Chow, who was pushed out of his position last week and will retire next February.

“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.

The Druid Lake construction mess: It didn’t have to be this way
Ashburton residents revolt over tree clearing for water tank project
DPW creates $100,000 position for outspoken critic

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)

One of the two storage tanks now under construction in the footprint of Druid Lake. The eastern end of the reservoir (BELOW) will be converted to a recreational lake fed by stormwater runoff from Druid Hill Park. (Mark Reutter)

One of the two storage tanks under construction in the footprint of Druid Lake. The east end of the reservoir (BELOW) is to be converted to a recreational lake. (Mark Reutter)

druid lake

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