Fresh Water, Foul Sewage
Broken pipe spills 44,000 gallons of sewage into the Gwynns Falls
Underground leak flowed into storm sewer system and did not reach the street, DPW says
Above: In 2014, the telltale cloudy white of sewage overflowing into the Gwynns Falls. (Blue Water Baltimore)
A pipe break in the 2500 block of West Lexington Street caused an underground sewage leak that flowed into storm drains and ultimately the Gwynns Falls, the Department of Public Works has disclosed.
DPW employees discovered the leak on Friday, according to a news release, “but on Monday were able to complete a pumping bypass that effectively ended the overflow by sending the sewage into a sewer manhole further downstream.”
An estimated 44,250 gallons of sewage was released from the time the break was discovered until the bypass was put into place, the release said.
There was no estimate of how long the pipe may have been leaking before that. None of the sewer overflow reached the street, but it did enter the storm drain system, DPW said.
A contractor will repair the broken line.
DPW said the weekend leakage is unrelated to the sewage overflows triggered by this summer’s frequent intense rainstorms that have sent millions of gallons of sewage into local waterways.
On one weekend alone (July 28-29) the city released 7.5 million gallons of sewage-mixed-with-rainwater into the Jones Falls via these “structured overflows.”
The city’s failing and inadequate sewer system has a series of overflow pipes to prevent sewage from backing up into homes by allowing it to flow into waterways.
Having failed to meet a federal consent decree deadline to eliminate this illegal practice, it is working to end the releases by 2020 under a renegotiated decree.