Marketplace Calls Baltimore’s Sewers “A Ticking Time Bomb”

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Baltimore’s sewer…. issues are nothing new around here. But they are apparently disturbing enough to really gross out a reporter from the public radio show Marketplace.

“It’s not a pretty picture,” Marketplace host Kai Ryssdal says in his intro. “Warning: This story is a little icky,” reporter Scott Tong cautions. And then he launches into an explanation of how Baltimore’s aging, decrepit sewer system regularly spills overflow sewage into the Harbor. (But don’t worry, the Harbor will be swimmable in 5 years! Right??)

The Marketplace story digs into the history of the Baltimore sewer system, starting in the days when the city treated the Harbor as a convenient and massive communal toilet, basically. After the Great Baltimore Fire of 1904, the city began installing a state-of-the-art sewer system featuring wood and terra cotta pipes. The problem today is that we’re still relying on that century-old system… which is not really state-of-the-art anymore!

Listen to the Marketplace story for more on the city’s piecemeal plan to fix its sewer crisis — but be warned, it’s not a pretty story.

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