The official total of sewage that spilled out during recent storms: 85 million gallons

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Photo by Ethan McLeod

Remember that early estimate for how much sewage flowed into Baltimore’s waterways after a streak of storms in late July—10 million gallons? Not even close.

In a release sent out today, Baltimore’s Department of Public Works estimates the amount of mixed sewage and rainwater that overflowed from inundated city pipes between July 21-27–a period of “historic rainfall,” DPW says–at 48.15 million gallons. That includes 45 million gallons that DPW had tallied in an update last week, plus another 3.15 million gallons released from eight locations after a storm on July 27.

The city also provided a troubling update today about sewer infrastructure damaged by debris during the severe summer weather.

In the Gwynns Falls, near Edmondson Avenue and Hilton Parkway in Southwest Baltimore, officials previously said a construction road collapsed, sending down debris that severed two sewer lines near the waterway. Crews were eventually able to stem the overflows with bypass pumps on Aug. 4, but not before an estimated 36 million gallons of mixed sewer and rainwater entered the Gwynns Falls.

At Maidens Choice Run, also in Southwest Baltimore, debris from the storm destroyed a manhole stack and broke a pipe there. Around 1.3 million gallons overflowed there before the leak stopped.

“Repair work is pending,” DPW’s release says.

While the broken sewer lines came as a surprise, the city often expects a release of what we humans release whenever there’s too much rain for the sewers to handle. DPW is working on fixing the city and county’s waste-logged system with ongoing repairs and updates, with a price tag of more than $2 billion.

The foul overflows plaguing Baltimore during heavy rains aren’t the only painful sign of damage from frequent storms. Flash flooding on Memorial Day weekend struck Southwest Baltimore’s Beechfield neighborhood, Catonsville and old Ellicott City in the spring, leaving homes and businesses underwater and destroyed in the aftermath.

For those affected, the federal government has stepped in to offer assistance getting them back on their feet and replacing items and real estate ruined by the storms.

Ethan McLeod
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