Baltimore IPF FAQs

  1. What is the Baltimore Integrated Planning Framework (IPF) Approach?Baltimore’s IPF is a flexible planning process that allows the Department of Public Works to establish its long-term construction and maintenance priorities so we achieve the highest level of benefits in a balanced and affordable manner.
  2. What is the Department of Public Works (DPW) Capital Improvement Program?DPW’s Capital Improvement Program (CIP) is a six-year plan – which is reviewed each year – to address upgrades to existing water, stormwater and sewer systems in the City of Baltimore.  The CIP is a list of the Department’s new construction or renovation projects needed to keep facilities and underground infrastructure in good condition and capable of meeting all permits and other requirements necessary to protect the environment and promote public health. Hundreds of millions of dollars are allocated in the annual CIP to address aging infrastructure, new requirements, and new innovations.
  3. Who is developing the Baltimore IPF?The City’s key managers under the Department of Public Works, Office of Engineering and Construction and Office of Asset Management, are charged with developing the Baltimore IPF. The City has retained our Baltimore Wet Weather Compliance Program Management team, MWH/LBG Joint Venture, to assist in the development of the IPF.
  4. Is EPA making us do this plan?
    No, this is a voluntary program. We began preparing a Baltimore City IPF before EPA completed its IPF concepts and guidance in June 2012.
  5. Why is Baltimore developing an IPF?
    Baltimore must spend billions of dollars in the years ahead to meet state and federal regulations regarding our water, sewer, and stormwater systems. We need to invest in upgrading those systems because they are old and subject to failure. We don’t have the resources to fix all of these systems at once, so we must weigh a variety of important factors to prioritize projects in order to achieve long-term sustainability of our infrastructure assets.
  6. What are the benefits to Baltimore from the IPF?
    The IPF process will help the City:

    • Manage the water and sewer rates while meeting the environmental protection mandates of regulatory agencies
    • Provide a more efficient capital planning process
    • Optimize capital project planning and scheduling within our financial constraint
  7. How will the IPF help me afford my water bills?By prioritizing our capital and maintenance projects, we can focus on those projects with the greatest benefits first, and push other projects into the future. By stretching some projects further into the future, we will help avoid peaks and valleys in our funding, and that should help stabilize future rate increases.
  8. The citizens of Baltimore are already burdened and stressed with the current rates. Will the IPF impact my water and sewer bills? The IPF will not directly impact your water and sewer bill. We see the IPF as a way to get future rate increases under control.
  9. When will the IPF start affecting our citizens?The City will be using the IPF process in our CIP project selections as soon as practicable, and we hope to begin softening the water and sewer rate increases.
  10. How will this impact public health and the environment?
    The IPF will provide the same overall level of public health and environmental protection as previous planning models, but will help us achieve these benefits in a more balanced and affordable manner. There is NO REDUCTION of regulatory standards for public health and the environment.
  11. How can Baltimore citizens know how long these projects will take, and how they integrate with our environmental and infrastructure goals?The completion dates and cost will be highlighted on the Planning Department website after the CIP has been approved.
  12. Why do we want more time to do these projects?In the past, state and federally mandated projects were the main drivers for capital spending. The City did not have available funding for infrastructure investment. With the IPF, the City will construct the projects with the highest benefits, stretching other projects into the future. That will allow the City the ability to balance affordability, while achieving long-term sustainability of our infrastructure assets.
  13. How often will the City perform the Integrated Planning Framework?The IPF methodology is designed to be a dynamic, ongoing effort that is routinely updated and revised as additional CIP projects are identified, as existing CIP projects are completed, and as new regulatory requirements, environmental needs, or public health needs are defined.
  14. Does the EPA IPF include Water?The EPA IPF guidance only included projects related to the Clean Water Act – wastewater and stormwater. The City of Baltimore included our drinking water-related projects as well as ongoing operational and maintenance costs. The City’s rationale is that these costs are being incurred by our ratepayers and need to be considered.  Subsequently, EPA agreed that we could include these costs as part of the affordability calculation.
  15. Are we meeting EPA standards now?Our water and wastewater treatment plants are meeting their permits, but we are also constructing additional treatment facilities to meet future discharge requirements. We are in the process of covering our finished water reservoirs, and our wet weather consent decree projects are part of a long-term compliance process for curtailing sanitary sewer overflows (SSOs).
  16. How has EPA responded to the City’s IPF?They have reviewed our draft IPF and given the City permission to do outreach to various stakeholders. Additionally, our IPF has been mentioned by EPA at various technical conferences as a very detailed and well thought out process. Additional negotiations with EPA are ongoing.
  17. Has DPW reviewed the conditions of the pipes in the City?Yes. Asset Management and Criticality Assessment is a necessary part of our infrastructure investment decisions, as is Preventive Maintenance. The information obtained through these activities is then used as part of the IPF.
  18. What benefits are being measured?The City’s IPF team defined 21 criteria in the areas of environmental, social, economic and project delivery.
  19. How were these 21 criteria selected?These were selected from a larger list of potential criteria and they reflect the elements that Baltimore’s leaders and citizens believe are important to sustainable utility operation.
  20. How do we set the priorities?We consider the 21 criteria related to the environmental, social, and economic impacts of each project, as well as construction considerations. These criteria include such things as pollution impacts, compliance with regulations, public health and safety, impact on poverty or blight, construction and operating costs, and the expected life span of the project. Each of these factors was weighted based on relative importance, and the project was given an overall score. Those scores are then ranked and the priorities set.
  21. How was the scoring done?The scoring is done consistently across the board, utilizing the same quantitative and qualitative metrics throughout. For every project, each of the 21 criteria is scored on a 1 to 10 scale.  Then, the importance weighting factors which were determined based on the relative importance of the 21 criteria is applied, and each project score is calculated.
  22. Are Solid Waste projects included?No. Solid waste projects are not included in the IPF.
  23. Will the IPF process allow or improve coordination of projects with other agencies?Yes. Coordinating projects is a criteria factor that could enhance a project’s standing in the review and rating process. We want to be smart about how we invest our limited resources
  24. What are the predicted impacts to environmental protection and public health?We anticipate that the same overall level of environmental protection and public health benefit will be achieved, along with the likelihood that greater benefits will be achieved sooner.
  25. What is the role of Baltimore County on the IPF?The IPF is a Baltimore City-driven plan, but Baltimore County would see the benefits of our prioritization as they share the costs of many of the projects.
  26. Can Baltimore citizens obtain a copy of the Baltimore IPF?Not yet.  This document is still in the draft stage.
  27. How can I get involved in the IPF process?In addition to government and regulatory agencies, stakeholders that will be involved in the IPF process include environmental groups, community groups, educational groups, and economic partners. If you or your group would like to be placed on Baltimore’s IPF Stakeholder List, or if you have further questions about the IPF, send an email and put IPF in the subject line.