The seemingly never-ending rain has caused sewage and debris overflows in waterways, beaches and basements throughout the Baltimore area — prompting officials to issue warnings for would-be swimmers and boaters.
Baltimore already has surpassed a record for July rainfall, set in 1889, and is on pace for the wettest summer since observations began in 1870.
The rain sent more than 45 million gallons of sewage-stormwater overflowe into Baltimore’s waterways between July 21 and July 25, according to the Baltimore City Department of Public Works. Rivers of detritus overflowed from the Patapsco River and the Susquehanna Rivers, especially after 20 gates of the Conowingo Dam were lifted to ease pressure from the Susquehanna River.
Winds and currents pushed much of the debris into the Annapolis Harbor, leaving a smelly field of trash, logs and other debris into Ego Alley.
“I’ve never seen a debris field like this,” said Deputy Annapolis Harbormaster Tyler Northfield. “It’s pretty nasty.”
Here’s a rundown of beach closures, boating advisories and other info residents should be aware of in the aftermath of the deluge.
The Maryland Department of Natural Resources shut down swimming at Sandy Point State Park on Tuesday afternoon because of the debris.
Anne Arundel County also announced Tuesday afternoon that swimming is off-limits temporarily at Beverly Triton Beach Park, Downs Park Dog Beach and Fort Smallwood Park. In general, county officials advised residents not to swim on community beaches or have direct contact with water until the debris is cleared.
In-land lakes have also suffered from polluting runoff spilling down from higher grounds. Cunningham Lake in Frederick County is among several sites across the state that has a water contact advisory.
The Maryland Department of Environment advises to avoid swimming near storm drains along beaches 48 hours after heavy rains and posts an interactive map of beach advisories online.
The St. Mary’s River and nearby creeks in Southern Maryland are among several areas temporarily closed off to shellfish harvesting due to the excessive rainfall. The Maryland Department of Environment has a list of others closed through this Friday.
The Maryland Department of Natural Resources is asking boaters to use “extreme caution” while traveling in and around the Chesapeake Bay due to large amounts of debris still clogging local waterways.
Officials say a large amount of “marine debris,” including tree limbs and other natural materials, is now in the mid-bay area.
Candy Thompson, spokesperson for Maryland Natural Resources Police, said logs and other debris may cause severe damage to boats underway, but so far, they have not received such distress calls. She said boaters experiencing problems may call Natural Resources Police at 410 -260-8888 or the Coast Guard at 410-576-2693.
Several thousand times every year, sewage backs up into basement toilets or drains across the Baltimore City, sometimes because the system is overloaded with rain. If Baltimore residents experience basement sewage backups as a result of rain events, they may get reimbursed through the city’s Expedited Reimbursement Program, which reimburses residents and property owners for clean up costs related to sewage backups caused by wet weather.
The city launched the reimbursement program earlier this year under a federally supervised program to modernize its aged, leaky sewer system.
Baltimore Sun editor Jim Joyner and reporters Colin Campbell and Scott Dance contributed to this article.