More than 2 million gallons of human waste mixed with water flowed out of Baltimore's sewage system amid last week's rainfall, city officials said Monday.
Most of it, about 1.6 million gallons, was released into an underground portion of the Jones Falls beneath the 400 block of East Preston Street.
About 460,000 gallons flowed into the waterway just upstream from there, beneath North Charles and West Lanvale streets and in the 1900 block of Falls Road just before the stream is channeled underground.
The sewage flowed from openings in the antiquated network of pipes that were designed to relieve pressure when the system is overloaded. The city is under orders to close the outflows as it works to satisfy a court-mandated consent decree with the Environmental Protection Agency that aims to protect public health and clean up the Inner Harbor and Chesapeake Bay.
The Jones Falls flows under downtown, reaching the Inner Harbor between Pier Six Pavilion and Harbor East.
The sewage contamination poses a health risk to anyone who comes in contact with harbor water and fouls the Patapsco River ecosystem.
Such sewage leaks are routine any time heavy rain falls. Though the sewer system is supposed to be closed, many sections are so cracked and broken that rain water inundates pipes designed to handle only what flows from toilets and drains.
About 3.5 inches of rain fell at the Inner Harbor from Sept. 27 through Saturday, according to the National Weather Service.
The city Department of Public Works is required to notify the public any time more than 10,000 gallons of wastewater washes into streams and rivers.
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