"Back in the late 1700s, when Baltimoreans got their water from nearby streams, springs and wells, every household was ordered to keep two leather buckets filled to fight fires. That precaution might come in handy again, as the water main break Monday near the Inner Harbor delivered a disruptive reminder to downtown businesses and commuters of just how decrepit the regional system supplying the vital liquid has become."
"For years, there have been about 1,000 breaks annually in the 4,500-mile network of underground pipes that carries water to 1.8 million residents in the city and parts of Anne Arundel, Baltimore and Howard counties.
But even as the city plans a major increase in pipe replacements, officials say it would take more than a century to restore all of the system's pipes. And they warn that water rates likely will continue to rise to cover the work."