Engage in Advocacy

Blue Water Baltimore works to advance policies and regulatory actions that protect and improve the health of local waterways and surrounding communities while amplifying local voices, centering equity, and building a powerful movement for clean water. 

If you support a clean environment and strong, healthy communities, join our advocacy efforts today! Sign up for advocacy alerts to stay informed and take action.

Baltimore City Policy

To make the strongest impact on our target watersheds (Jones Falls, Gwynns Falls, Baltimore Harbor, and Herring Run), BWB primarily engages in advocacy at the local level in Baltimore City and County. These are our current priorities in Baltimore City:

Residential Sewage Backups

Sewage backups are a big problem in Baltimore City. When heavy rain overwhelms Baltimore’s aging pipes, sewage has no place to go but up and out into people’s basement floor drains, toilets, showers, and washing machines. These backups happen thousands of times each year, put residents’ health, homes, and livelihoods at risk, and disproportionately affect Black residents.

We’re collaborating with coalition partners and allies on the City Council to expand the City’s two support programs for residents facing sewage backups. In 2021, DPW conducted a feasibility study about expanding the Expedited Reimbursement Program and the Sewage Onsite Support program. A follow up investigative hearing will be scheduled soon. We are also working to eliminate sewage backups through our work monitoring the Sewage Consent Decree.

TAKE ACTION! Tell the City Council and Board of Estimates to prioritize investments in our water and wastewater infrastructure in the Fiscal Year 2023 budget!

Fighting Climate Change

From raw sewage backing up into peoples’ basements to the urban heat island effect exacerbating hot temperatures, climate change poses significant risks to Baltimore’s communities, waterways, and environment. The Baltimore City Council is considering a package of bills to help mitigate some of the worst effects of climate change and move the City toward a more sustainable future:

  • Global Warming Solutions – Carbon Neutral City (Resolution 21-0075R) calls on Baltimore City to become carbon-neutral by 2045. Watch the January 19th, 2022 hearing here.
    • Status: The City Council adopted this resolution on January 24, 2022.
  • City Operations – Net-Zero Emissions of Greenhouse Gases (Ordinance 21-0161) requires City government operations to be net-zero by 2045. Watch the March 16, 2022 hearing here.
    • Status: Mayor Scott signed this bill into law on April 22, 2022. Read more about the final bill and the strengthening amendments we advocated for in this blog post.
  • Procurement – Zero-Emission Vehicles (Ordinance 21-0159) requires the City’s fleet of vehicles to be zero-emission (plug-in hybrids and battery electric cars) by 2040. Watch the January 18th, 2022 hearing here.
    • Status: This hearing was recessed while the committee works on amendments.
  • Building Code – Cool Roofs (Ordinance 21-0160) requires reflective, solar, or green roofs on new buildings and additions to existing buildings. Watch the January 13th, 2022 hearing here.
    • Status: This hearing was recessed while the committee works on amendments.

Read more about these bills and their importance on our blog.

TAKE ACTION! Tell the City Council and Mayor Scott to pass the remaining bills in the climate package!

Green Stormwater Infrastructure

Every time it rains, trash, bacteria, heavy metals, and other pollutants are washed from city streets and roofs into local streams and the harbor. Green stormwater infrastructure (GSI) is a cost-effective way to improve water quality and combat flooding and stormwater runoff. GSI also improves air quality and makes cities cooler during hot summer months.

  • If you’ve experienced flooding, we want to hear from you! Report through our confidential form here.
  • Learn more about GSI by watching this short video
  • You can also read our 2019 GSI report which outlined several recommendations to improve the process for permitting voluntary GSI projects in the City, including updating the City Code, developing a GSI Task Force, and increasing the portion of Stormwater Fee revenue that supports GSI. Stay tuned for opportunities to advocate for these recommended changes in 2022.

Maryland State Policy

When engaging with state-level advocacy issues, BWB seeks to represent the interests of the waterways and people within our watersheds. Maryland’s 2022 legislative session ended on April 11th. Check out this blog post to learn about what passed, what didn’t, and what we’ll be coming back for in 2023!


Questions about our advocacy work?

Contact Taylor Smith-Hams, tsmithhams [AT] bluewaterbaltimore.org 

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