Water quality alert issued as repairs continue on ruptured pipe at Patapsco pumping station

Baltimore County issued an alert Wednesday regarding water quality in the Patapsco River after a pipe ruptured at Patapsco pumping station.

According to the website of the Baltimore County Department of Health, if contacting the water is necessary, people should avoid contact with open cuts and wounds and wash thoroughly afterward.

The warning for areas of the river between Hammonds Ferry Road and the Middle Branch of the Patapsco River is similar to an alert issued by Anne Arundel County Monday warning a warning against direct water contact for a section of the Patapsco River in Brooklyn Park.

The Maryland Department of the Environment announced Wednesday that it has closed the mouth of the Patapsco River and a nearby portion of the Chesapeake Bay to shellfish harvesting until further notice.

The alerts follow the rupture of a 54-inch diameter pressure line inside the Patapsco pumping station on the 4600 block of Annapolis road Sunday.

The overflow began at the station at 3:30 p.m. March 25 and is ongoing, according to a release from the county's Department of Public Works.

When functional, the pipe transports 17 million gallons of sewage from western Baltimore County to the Patapsco Treatment Plant in Baltimore City daily, according to the release.

Portions of the river, including where the sewage entered the waterway following Sunday's rupture, have been closed for shellfish harvesting since the 1960s, according to a release from the Maryland Department of the Environment.

Construction crews are expected to restore the line by Thursday, a release from the Department of Public Works stated.

Baltimore County utility crews found the rupture at 11 p.m. and hired three contractors to restore the line, the release stated.

Neither the cause of the rupture nor the cost to restore the line have been determined, said Baltimore County Department of Public Works spokesman David Fidler.

"There's always an impact, but the river will flush itself eventually," Fidler said. "(The rupture) is not going to affect any individual resident or homeowner."

Between 2008 and 2010, the county spent $16 million in renovations to the Patapsco pumping station.

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