Three days and nearly 379,000 gallons of sewage later, DPW stops a leaking pipe in Westport

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Photo by Ethan McLeod

It took a few days, as well as a pit to contain some overflowing human waste, but the Baltimore City Department of Public Works said Friday that it’s stopped a damaged sewer main that began overflowing in Westport after it was allegedly damaged by a BGE contractor.

DPW said in a release today that it has stopped the overflow in a “large sewer main” on Kent Street in the riverside South Baltimore neighborhood. The agency said earlier this week that the pipe had been spewing about 100 gallons per minute.

That added up to about 378,600 gallons over the last three days, DPW estimated.

The overflow began Tuesday, though who’s responsible has been in dispute. The city said it was a contractor for utility Baltimore Gas & Electric that damaged the pipe. But BGE responded on Wednesday with the accusation that it was actually the city’s fault.

The initial damage had occurred when BGE’s contractor was working at the site on Sept. 19, the company said. Crews had been “following safe digging practices… yet damage occurred to an underground sewer line that was improperly marked,” said a statement from BGE.

The utility claimed DPW then sent out its own contractor two weeks later—this past Tuesday—to perform repairs, and that’s when the break happened.

DPW spokesman Jeff Raymond denied that claim in an email Wednesday, saying, “neither the City nor a contractor was doing repair work at the site on Oct. 2.” Rather, he said, the city’s crew was “investigating to determine the extent of the damage when the sewer main was pierced on Sept. 19.”

BGE spokesman Justin Mulcahy said the company stood by its original statement blaming DPW.

Raymond said late Wednesday a pit was being used to contain the overflowing waste, which had otherwise been leaking into the Patapsco River’s Middle Branch via the Gwynns Falls nearby. However, all of the aforementioned 378,600 gallons leaked into waterways and none of it into the pit, which was used to contain excess waste beyond that total, Raymond clarified today.

That extra waste is being pumped into another sewer main, he said.

While the leak has been stopped, the sewer main still needs to be repaired. DPW said it’s notified the Baltimore City Health Department and the Maryland Department of the Environment.

Ethan McLeod
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