Public works officials are urging people to avoid contact with the Chinquapin Run in Northeast Baltimore after discovering hundreds of gallons of sewage have been leaking into it every day for at least three weeks.
A 21-inch sewer main near the stream's intersection with Loch Raven Boulevard is releasing about 15 gallons of sewage into the stream each hour, city officials said Friday. The leak is upstream from where the Chinquapin meets Herring Run on the campus of Morgan State University; from there, the Herring Run flows to the Back River.
Public works crews discovered the leak about three weeks ago.
In about three weeks, they will begin $115,000 in repairs to about 600 feet of the sewer main, officials said. It will take a month to clean and line the weathered main.
By the time work begins, at least 15,000 gallons of sewage is estimated to have leaked into the stream.
Signs have been posted warning people not to come in contact with the water, officials said.
Over the past 13 years, Baltimore has spent $700 million to repair and replace aged sewer pipes under an agreement with the federal Environmental Protection Agency and Maryland Department of the Environment. But the city missed a deadline to complete work required to stop the leaks by the end of last year, and is negotiating with EPA and MDE on a new deadline perhaps a decade into the future.
Sewage leaks make local waterways unhealthy for swimming and also contribute to algae blooms that degrade the Chesapeake Bay's health.