Blue Water Baltimore | WYPR

Blue Water Baltimore

Tom Pelton

In a park in West Baltimore, a spectacular arched stone bridge rises over a stream called the Gwynns Falls, which flows into Baltimore’s Inner Harbor and the Chesapeake Bay.

Although the bridge is beautiful and trees beside the stream are blossoming, when you look at the stream, you see that the Gwynns Falls is troubled. A whirpool of sludge twists under the bridge, with a gyre of Styrofoam cups and plastic bottles.

Alice Volpitta is the lead water quality scientist for Blue Water Baltimore, a nonprofit that is fighting to clean up this and other city waterways.  She points to a sign and a sewer on the banks of the river.

“Baltimore City Department of Works has posted a temporary health warning sign next to this manhole to indicate there has recently been some sort of sewage overflow coming out of this manhole,” Volpitta said. “And if you get closer, you can smell the sewage.”

Rachel Baye

On sunny days, you might have to look a little harder to find evidence of sewage overflows on the Jones Falls Trail. But it’s there.

Blue Water Baltimore

Baltimore City asked the U.S. District Court last month to extend its deadline for making critical improvements to the city sewer system by 17 years, from January 2016 to the year 2033.

The deadline stems from a 2002 lawsuit the U.S. Department of Justice filed against the city for allowing raw sewage to leak into public waterways, in violation of the federal Clean Water Act.

Mark Goebel/Flickr via Creative Commons

  

Twelve million gallons. That’s how much sewage Baltimore’s Department of Public Works estimates was dumped into the Inner Harbor last week after heavy rains overwhelmed the city’s dilapidated sewer system.This news comes on the heels of Baltimore missing the January 1 deadline imposed by the US Environmental Protection Agency and the state Department of the Environment to eliminate overflows and spills. Halle Van der Gaag, Director of Blue Water Baltimore and Mark Reutter of The Baltimore Brew, join us to discuss the city’s response to this massive discharge, as well as the impact of sewage releases on our trails and waterways, and on public health.