An estimated 4.1 million gallons of sewage flowed into the Inner Harbor as a result of Monday’s rainstorms, according to the Department of Public Works.
The bulk of the waste, just more than 3 million gallons, came from an outfall at 428 E. Preston Street, which, for reference, is just south of Open Works on Greenmount Avenue.
As DPW notes, the overflows were part of the original design of the sewer system more than a century ago, functioning as a release valve when the system gets flooded with rainwater. The department is working to eliminate them as part of a consent decree with the Environmental Protection Agency, a $1.6 billion plan approved last year after the city failed to meet a 2015 deadline established by the federal agency in 2002.
Before this most recent announcement, DPW had reported more than 8 million gallons of sewage overflow in 2018 related to three incidents on Jan. 19, Feb. 5 and Feb. 12. But the department noted in a release last December that overflows had declined for five consecutive years, which they attributed to a more proactive approach to unclogging sewer lines.
In an interesting bit of timing, Blue Water Baltimore yesterday released a 20-year study linking the deterioration of the Gwynns Falls to frequent sewage leaks, among other causes. The group found that sewage overflows led to increases of nitrate, phosphate, nitrogen, phosphorus, chloride, sulfate, bacteria and ammonia in the water.
Alice Volpitta, water quality manager for Blue Water, told The Sun, “This is the first time with statistical accuracy we can say sewage is really detrimental to water quality.”
The storms also sent a smorgasbord of sticks, bottles and other trash to Mr. Trash Wheel for what will surely be a gluttonous feast.
I have my work cut out for me today. Good thing my tummy is literally made of metal. pic.twitter.com/i2tHAnwqvS
— Mr. Trash Wheel (@MrTrashWheel) April 16, 2018