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About 45 million gallons of sewage-tainted water flow into Jones Falls, Herring Run, officials say

About 45 million gallons of sewage-tainted water overflowed into the Jones Falls and Herring Run after heavy rains last week, according to the Baltimore Department of Public Works.

About 8.8 million gallons of the contamination flowed into the Herring Run in Northeast Baltimore; the rest entered the Jones Falls, the agency said. Overflows can occur when stormwater infiltrates cracks and breaks in sewer pipes and overwhelms the sewage system, which was designed only to handle waste, not an influx of stormwater.

Thursday night, a Baltimore Sun reporter saw dirty water spewing from manholes along the Jones Falls near the Baltimore Streetcar Museum, and the stench of sewage was in the air. A city database shows about 6.5 million gallons of contamination overflowed there, in the 1900 block of Falls Road, on Thursday.

According to the city records, other areas where significant overflows occurred included the 3900 block of Belair Road, in Belair-Edison, and beneath the 400 block of East Preston Street, where the Jones Falls runs underground.

More than 2.5 inches of rain was reported Thursday and Friday at the Maryland Science Center in the Inner Harbor, according to the National Weather Service.

People should avoid contact with the stream water to avoid contamination, the agency said. Contact with city streams is generally discouraged, especially during and recently after rainfall.

The public works department recently temporarily stopped issuing news releases on sewage overflows, saying a new live map had replaced the alerts. But after questions from The Baltimore Sun about the change in practice, the agency said it would issue alerts for overflows of 10,000 gallons or more.

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