Weekend rain washes 10 million gallons of sewage-contaminated water into Baltimore's Jones Falls

As parts of the Baltimore region flooded Sunday, the heavy rains were also washing 10 million gallons of sewage-contaminated stormwater into Baltimore’s Jones Falls — one of the largest waste discharges city officials have reported in recent years.

Heavy rains routinely overload Baltimore’s aged sewer system, sending human waste out of manholes and outflows that pour directly into the Jones Falls.

The overflows are the result of cracks and breaks in the aged sewer system, and of its century-old design. The city is under a consent decree with federal and state environmental regulators to end the overflows, which violate the federal Clean Water Act, by 2022.

Most of the sewage, 7.5 million gallons, came out of an underground pipe near the intersection of Greenmount Avenue and East Preston Street, where the Jones Falls runs underground toward the Inner Harbor.

Another 1.5 million gallons came out of a similar outflow slightly more upstream, where the falls flows along Falls Road near the Baltimore Streetcar Museum.

The city Department of Public Works is required to notify the public of such sewage overflows under the consent decree.

Public works officials said smaller overflows occurred elsewhere around the city:

» 984,000 gallons near 1800 E. Eager St.

» 167,000 gallons near West Cold Spring Lane and Ayrdale Avenue

» 104,000 gallons near Charing Cross Road and Greenwich Avenue

» 36,000 gallons near 3100 Liberty Heights Avenue

» 30,000 gallons near North Charles Street and West Lanvale Street

» 25,000 gallons near Gelston Drive and Linnard Street

They reported 12-million-gallons sewage overflows after storms in February 2016 and August 2014.

The sewage pollution is the main contaminant preventing Baltimore from reaching goals of a swimmable and fishable harbor.

Environmental advocates announced Tuesday that levels of fecal bacteria fell dramatically in Baltimore waterways last year, possibly in part because of city work to repair broken and cracked sewer pipes, officials said.

Sewage pollution is not limited to the Jones Falls or other city waterways — Anne Arundel County officials on Tuesday closed a portion of the Patapsco River to swimmers through June 28. They said more than 1 million gallons of sewage washed into the river from Baltimore and Howard counties upstream.

sdance@baltsun.com

twitter.com/ssdance

Copyright © 2018, The Baltimore Sun, a Baltimore Sun Media Group publication | Place an Ad
79°