BALTIMORE (WJZ) –Attorney General Brian Frosh calls on Governor Larry Hogan to provide more funds for the Maryland Department of the Environment program to ensure the state’s safe drinking water supply.
In a letter of December 1 to the governor, Frosh declared that the Water supply program oversight of 3,300 public drinking water systems in the state is both underfunded and understaffed, according to a report commissioned by the EPA released earlier this year.
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The consulting firm that drafted The report, Cadmus, found that the program needs to increase its full-time staff complement by 187% and its overall funding by 93% to ensure proper oversight. There are currently 27 vacancies within the program, which is being allocated to 71 full-time positions, according to the report.
Funding is short by more than $ 7.5 million this year and up to $ 10 million by 2025, according to the report.
Program staff have seen their workload increase with vacancies and hiring freezes, and the ongoing addition of 350 new public water systems, according to the report.
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In his letter, Frosh said the group should “prevent public health crises like the tragedy we saw in Flint, Mich.,” Where in 2014 lead has entered the tap water supply, rendering the water unfit for consumption.
“The people of Maryland expect the state to make sure our drinking water is safe,” said Frosh. “The EPA has warned the administration that years of underfunding and understaffing the Department of the Environment’s water supply program have compromised its ability to conduct adequate inspections and monitoring, threatening health millions of Marylanders. “
Jay Apperson, spokesperson for the Maryland Department of the Environment, said the agency had worked with the EPA in recent months to address concerns about staff.
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“Despite the letter from the Attorney General and attempts to politicize the issue, state programs, as well as partnerships at the local level and with the EPA, are strong and continue to provide safe and sustainable water to residents. from Maryland, ”Apperson said.