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Fresh Water, Foul Sewage

Environmentby Brew Editors10:37 amFeb 13, 20180

Jones Falls gets another 5 million gallon dousing of sewage

Baltimore’s failing sewer system also sent human waste into Western Run, following heavy rainfall

Above: Baltimore’s aging system allows overflows of human waste into homes and waterways and onto roadway via manhole covers like this one on Falls Road. (Fern Shen)

Après le déluge: les eaux vannes.

(aka, le poop.)

Heavy rain – which regularly overwhelms Baltimore’s sewers, blasting human waste into local waterways – did so again on Sunday, sending 5.7 million gallons of sewage mixed with rainwater into the Jones Falls and 36,000 gallons into Western Run.

Overflows occurred at two locations on the Jones Falls: underground at 401 East Preston Street and above-ground, via a pipe located at 1901 Falls Road.

The Department of Public Works did not specify how much flowed at each of these spots, “structured outfalls,” designed to relieve pressure on the city’s failing sewer system and prevent basement back-ups during wet weather.

The smaller sewage leak into Western Run occurred at an elevated manhole along the stream near Western Run Drive and Bonnie View Drive.

“All of these overflows began in the late morning and stopped in the afternoon,” according to a release from DPW.

Cracks in Baltimore’s aging sewer pipes allow water to infiltrate, overwhelming capacity and resulting in millions of gallons of fecal waste contaminating local waterways and Chesapeake Bay every year.

In violation of the Clean Water Act, the city has promised to end these overflows under a federal consent decree, which was renegotiated after DPW failed to meet its 2015 deadline.

The city now is on pace to complete Phase I of the agreement, which calls for sanitary sewer overflows (SSOs) to be eliminated by January 1, 2021, DPW director Rudy Chow said at a public meeting last month.

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