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Harbor's trash starts in vacant lots [Letter]

There are 26 outlets to the Baltimore Harbor, and most of these are from the neighborhoods that empty into it. The new trash interceptor is amazing ("New water wheel joins fight against harbor trash," May 6) but it will clean up only the Jones Falls outlet. One cannot jump from having this interceptor to the conclusion expressed in a recent article that we will have a swimmable Baltimore Harbor in 2020.

The trash problem is not a water problem but a land problem that is not getting the attention, and bold moves are necessary to solve this issue. Education is not enough! What is needed is a plan that works with the various community associations and works to change behavior of the citizens. The plan should involve a "land-keeper" under the city's housing department who would make frequent alley rounds with members of the associations to identify the mini-landfills in the backyards of vacant houses and report their locations to the Department of Public Works for cleanup. Having worked with the 17 associations in the Harris Creek Watershed Trash Project, I am convinced that the leaders here can play a major role in reducing trash from going into the Baltimore Harbor.

June 2020 is coming up fast. Unless the Waterfront Partnership and Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake stop dreaming and come up with better plans to reduce neighborhood trash accumulations, the Baltimore Harbor will not be swimmable in 2020. I am willing to buy the bathing suits for the mayor and members of the Waterfront Partnership who would like to take the first jump and stay in the water for at least 15 minutes to prove this point. Stop dreaming and come together! We can still do it with the right plan.

Dr. Raymond D. Bahr, Baltimore

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Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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