Water Blog - Blue Water Baltimore In the News 2015

News, notes and thoughts from Blue Water Baltimore.



Blue Water Baltimore In the News 2015

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Read news articles about Blue Water Baltimore from media outlets in the Baltimore region and beyond. Get involved in the clean water movement and stay informed on major issues that are making headlines in the news.

News and Press 2015

Solar-Powered Water Wheel Removes 350 Tons of Trash from Baltimore’s Inner Harbor

“They say you can’t reinvent the wheel, but in May 2014, the Waterfront Partnership did just that. The Baltimore nonprofit installed “the world’s first permanent water wheel trash interceptor” to clean up the city’s polluted Inner Harbor.The wheel, which is powered by solar panels and water currents, has pulled a whole lot of trash from the harbor in less than two years. As recently reported by Waste Dive, the $750,000 floating trash guzzler has removed more than 350 tons of litter from Baltimore’s landmark and tourist attraction to date…Still, it will take great strides to make the harbor actually swimmable and fishable in less than five years. In June, the Waterfront Partnership and Blue Water Baltimore graded the harbor an overall “F” in their 2014 Healthy Harbor Report Card.” — EcoWatch.

Baltimore Has Bad Raw Sewage Problem

“A new report claims the city of Baltimore has been dumping hundreds of millions of gallons of sewage into the Jones Falls without public notification…In the report, a water quality expert said the bacteria levels in the Inner Harbor are so high that warning signs should be put up like the ones along the Jones Falls…’Folks need to be told that 48 hours following a major storm event, where we are seeing millions of gallons of sewage overflow, that they should avoid water contact as a rule,’ said David Flores, with Blue Water Baltimore.” — WBAL11 Baltimore.

Baltimore Under Reporting Sewage Overflows into Jones Falls

“The Environmental Integrity Project studied meter readings from two sewage relief pipes on the Jones Falls from 2011 to 2015. Researchers found that the pipes released 15 times more sewage mixed with rainwater than the city reported…”It is really overwhelming to interact with folks that are having their homes, their private spaces, their places of refuge deluged with highly toxic and dangerous sewage raw sewage in their homes,” said David Flores, Baltimore Harbor Waterkeeper for Blue Water Baltimore. ” — ABC2 Baltimore.

With Repairs Dragging, Baltimore Sewage Overflows and Backups Stir Complaints

“A new report details how Baltimore has deliberately dumped more than 330 million gallons of raw sewage over the past five years into the Jones Falls, which flows into the Inner Harbor…’We’re seeing a lot more people out on the water boating and fishing,” said David Flores, the Baltimore Harbor Waterkeeper, who says the city ought to be more open about how much sewage is being spilled into the harbor and the streams that feed it.'” — Baltimore Sun.

It’s Easy to Make a Difference in Smalltimore

“Baltimore’s “smallness” allows young people to play a role in critical community organizations at a very early age, in contrast to many larger cities, where even community involvement is very intimidating. Our colleagues, like those at many other businesses in our region, play important roles in organizations throughout Baltimore, such as the United Way, Catholic Charities, the Boy Scouts, Paul’s Place, Civic Works and Blue Water Baltimore. I’ve enjoyed personally being involved in several organizations, including the broad-based effort to clean up Baltimore harbor. The opportunity to become involved – and make a difference – is one of our city’s greatest assets.” — Baltimore Sun.

Trees are Building Blocks of Revitalization in Baltimore’s Neighborhoods

“Shortly after it was formed from the merger of five watershed organizations in 2009, Blue Water Baltimore began to undertake more projects on a neighborhood scale. One green alley or green street was nice; 11 blocks with 130 trees in East Baltimore was even nicer. Grants from Baltimore City, the Chesapeake Bay Trust and other nonprofit organizations have allowed the organization to tackle that larger work and build demonstration projects to show what a greener Baltimore looks like. In September, Blue Water Baltimore got word it would receive $500,000 from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation for its Deep Blue greening project, which allows the group to focus on five neighborhoods and “go deep” with getting the community involved in directing the tree plantings, abating the trash problem and building green infrastructure with porous pavement in alleys.” — Bay Journal.

Trees are Building Blocks of Revitalization in Baltimore’s Neighborhoods

“As the Baltimore County Council voted 7-0 without comment Monday to phase out the county’s stormwater remediation fee, opponents in the audience held up signs that said, ‘Show us the $’. They were referring to the lack of a plan by the county to pay for federally mandated stormwater remediation if not with the current fee…The council’s unanimous vote Monday makes it veto-proof against a possible challenge by Kamenetz. The vote was expected, but that didn’t stop a group of about 50 people from gathering prior to the vote for a rally at Patriot Plaza in downtown Towson, where they called on the council to delay the vote until an alternative funding mechanism can be worked out. ‘We want the executive and the County Council to work together to come to a solution,’ said Elise Bruner, of Towson, a community organizer for Blue Water Baltimore, which organized the rally.” — Baltimore Sun.

Maryland Court to Hear Appeals Over Stormwater Permits for Baltimore, 4 Counties

“The Maryland Court of Appeals was to hear oral arguments Nov. 5 in three separate cases involving permits issued by the Maryland Department of the Environment that will govern how stormwater is handled within four of Maryland’s largest counties and Baltimore City. At issue is whether the permits that the MDE issued were strong enough and included enough public notice and public feedback…Next on the docket is a challenge to the permits for Baltimore, Anne Arundel and Prince George’s counties. The environmental group Blue Water Baltimore is the lead plaintiff in that case, which is made up of separate cases that have been consolidated into one case. The Gunpowder Riverkeeper and the Natural Resources Defense Council are also plaintiffs. A third case involves Blue Water and Baltimore City.” — Bay Journal.

Torn Over Trees In Towson

“Some residents, environmental activists and community leaders in the Towson area say, and county officials confirm, that the majestic willow oak tree was healthy but was cut down because it was buckling the sidewalk and posed a pedestrian hazard in the public right-of-way…Darin Crew, senior forestry manager for the regional environmental group, Blue Water Baltimore, took an interest in the West Towson case and estimated the oak tree was at least 60 feet and likely as old as the community, which dates to the late 1950s, according to the West Towson Improvement Association website.” — Baltimore Sun.

Greener Cities, More Nutrient and Sediment Control Targets of Record High Funding

“Against a backdrop of row houses in East Baltimore, the Chesapeake Bay Program and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation announced they would grant $11.5 million to 44 projects this year for restoration programs spread out across the Bay’s watershed – a record amount that is $2 million more than last year…The Blue Water Baltimore project will be a $500,000 grant that targets five city neighborhoods to “green” with tree pits, green infrastructure projects and education about trash. It is part of the group’s Deep Blue initiative, and yesterday workers were already installing tree pits for the dozens of trees that they are planting in east Baltimore.” — Bay Journal.

Baltimore Homes Flooded with Sewage, Long Term Fix Still Years Out

“An entire Baltimore city block is still drying out after heavy rains flooded their homes with raw sewage, and this wasn’t the first time. Neighbors in Grove Park say it has happened three times in the past five years. Each time they’ve felt ignored by the city, left to clean up the mess themselves…”These pipes are, some of them are pushing 100 years old and the lifetime of a sewer pipe is really only 50 years,” said David Flores, Baltimore Harbor Waterkeeper. ‘So you have these pipes that are continuing to fail.'” — ABC2 Baltimore.

$11.5 Million Given to Chesapeake Bay Restoration

“Money may not grow on trees, but it sure can help plant some. The Chesapeake Bay restoration effort got a boost Tuesday from $11.5 million in government and private grants announced in Baltimore…Blue Water Baltimore, the area’s environmental watchdog group, received $500,000 to pay for stormwater, greening, and “targeted public health” efforts in five Baltimore City neighborhoods.” — Baltimore Sun.

Record $11.5 Million Will Support Cleaner Water, Improved Habitat in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed

“The Chesapeake Bay Program and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) today announced the recipients of a record $11.5 million in grants for restoration, conservation and environmental outreach across the Chesapeake Bay watershed’s six states and the District of Columbia…Blue Water Baltimore will engage the local community in an initiative that seeks to implement stormwater management practices within five targeted neighborhoods in Baltimore City. The Deep Blue program is an innovative partnership between the City of Baltimore, Blue Water Baltimore and the Neighborhood Design Center.” — National Fish and Wildlife Foundation.

In Baltimore, Taking Back the Harbor Starts in the Alleys

“After years of clean-up efforts, one group is turning its attention far away from the Harbor to the city’s back alleys in hope of stemming the tide of trash…One of the art pieces commissioned for the makeover program depicts a stream of blue water filled with fish, clams and a crab painted onto the ground. It’s made to look like the water is flowing into a storm drain in the middle of one of the improved alleys, a subtle reminder of the connection between the alley and Baltimore’s waterways…’We used to go in [to neighborhoods] talking about storm water and sewage and healthy waterways, and now we really talk about healthy communities. “[said Executive Director, Halle Van der Gaag]” — Newsworks.

Poultry Industry Squawking Again

“In fact, as the Baltimore Harbor Waterkeeper, my job is focused entirely on stopping pollution from entering Baltimore’s waters, and Blue Water Baltimore has been a persistent watchdog over the city’s troubled sewer infrastructure since our founding in 2010. We have and will continue to use all tools at our disposal — including legal action — to ensure that the city meet its obligations to reduce stormwater and sewage pollution and achieve water quality standards…Instead of constantly shifting blame, let’s instead focus on the shared responsibility that we all have in the Chesapeake Bay cleanup effort. In order to clean up the bay and our local waters, we will need to reduce pollution from all sectors, including urban sewer overflows, suburban stormwater runoff and rural agricultural pollution.” — David Flores via Baltimore Sun.

No End in Sight for City’s $1.1 Billion Overhaul of Leaky, Polluting Sewers

“Environmental advocates say they’re frustrated by the lack of transparency about such a costly and plodding undertaking. They contend that the city underreports sewer leaks and overflows, and worry the repairs won’t be enough to make local waters fit for recreation in the near future.” Halle van der Gaag, executive director of Blue Water Baltimore said, “people have a right to know more about what’s taken so long, because they’ve been paying for it with repeated increases in their water and sewer bills — the latest a 11 percent increase this year alone.” — Baltimore Sun.

Partners Petition EPA to Take Action on Polluted Urban Runoff in Baltimore

“Even with new stormwater utility fee revenue, we know that local government capacity to address restoration requirements is stretched thin. Further, we know that most of the potential stormwater restoration opportunities are located on private land. Stormwater pollution is more efficiently treated at its source, which is the property where is it generated. Not enough public land is available to capture and treat the tremendous quantity of stormwater that flows off of parking lots at big-box stores and college campuses into our publicly-owned streets, storm drains, and streams,” said Baltimore Harbor Waterkeeper David Flores. — Natural Resources Defense Council.

Mud Pollution Enforcement Needs Improvement, Environmentalists Say

“David Flores, the Baltimore Harbor Waterkeeper, said his group, Blue Water Baltimore, has complained repeatedly to the city over the past four years about the lack of erosion control measures there. He questioned why the state hadn’t stepped in sooner. He noted that the $238 million mix of condominiums, apartments and homes is a city-sponsored development.” — Baltimore Sun.

Montgomery Lawsuit Raises Questions about Baltimore Area Stormwater Fees

“Halle Van der Gaag, executive director of Blue Water Baltimore, a local watershed watchdog group, said that she believes Montgomery’s fee is very consistent with the intent of the law. And she defended the city’s fees, the highest in the state, saying they were designed to account for the roads and storm drains related to every one of us that still need to be maintained and managed.” — Baltimore Sun.

Blue Water Baltimore Feature Article

“Blue Water Baltimore has a pretty clear mission is to clean up the water in our neighborhoods and, as a result, the Chesapeake Bay. The organization monitors streams for pollution, cleans up trash from waterways, plants trees, gives advice on controlling runoff, runs a nonprofit nursery and advocates in Annapolis for laws to fight pollution.” — Homeland Magazine.

Grant for Sarah’s Hope will Help Turn a Community Resource Green

“Blue Water Baltimore, a local organization that received more than $70,000 to plant 160 street trees in three low-income neighborhoods. Carl Simon, director of programs at Blue Water Baltimore, said that project is designed not only to beautify the communities, but increase the city’s tree canopy and reduce urban heat.” — Baltimore Sun.

Grading the Inner Harbor’s Health

“The Healthy Harbor Report looks at four major water bodies. Jones Falls, Gywnns Falls, Baltimore Harbor and tidal Patuxent River out to the main stem of the Chesapeake Bay. The sampling program is run by Blue Water Baltimore our local watershed association and every week the Baltimore Harbor Waterkeeper and a fleet of volunteers go out and sample 30 sites either in the streams or in the Harbor.” — WYPR New Station.

Report: Baltimore Waters Better but Still get Failing Grade

“The report card released Thursday by Waterfront Partnership and Blue Water Baltimore gave failing grades for water quality to the Inner Harbor and two waterways: Jones Falls and the tidal portion of the Patapsco River.” — WTOP New Station.

University of Baltimore Students and Faculty Study and Clean Up the Jones Falls

Dr. Stanley J. “Kemp and Lisa DeGuire, Education and Outreach Coordinator at Blue Water Baltimore, led eight enthusiastic students from the Academy of Career and College Exploration (ACCE) to the Jones Falls, on an electrofishing trip where they found several healthy native species of fish.” — The UB Post.

Officials Hope For A Healthy Harbor You Can Swim In By 2020

“We know there’s a lot of infrastructure work that have yet to get into the ground,” said Halle Van der Gaag, executive director of Bluewater Baltimore. “When we see that work go in, we’re going to see the grades go up.” Infrastructure improvements to better control sewage and storm water runoff from Baltimore City and county. “It comes down the Jones Falls and Gwynn Falls rivers, enters the Harbor and deposits different type of pollutants that contribute to things like algae blooms and fish kills,” David Flores, harbor waterkeeper, said. — CBS Baltimore News.

Baltimore Harbor, Watershed Improving, But Still Get an ‘F’ for Health

“David Flores, Baltimore Harbor Waterkeeper, said some parts of the upper Gwynns Falls and upper Jones Falls watersheds had surprisingly good water quality. Flores said he’s looking to see significant improvements in the next several years. The city and Baltimore County have been working for more than a decade now under state and federal orders to fix sewer overflows and leaks, he noted.” — Baltimore Sun.

Baltimore Harbor Water is Still Disgusting, Probably Won’t be Ready for Swimming or Fishing by 2020

“I’m really concerned as well about not just the prospective ability of folks to be able to swim or kayak or have more recreational contact with the water, I’m also concerned about the public health threat now,” said David Flores, Blue Water Baltimore’s waterkeeper. — Baltimore Business Journal.

Water Tests Show Baltimore’s Waterways Slowly Improving; Still Dangerously Polluted in Spots

“The infrastructure is so old that the water in the two systems is kind of mixing and it means that we’re getting sanitary sewer liquid in our stormwater system,” said Alice Volpitta with Blue Water Baltimore. “So long story short, what that means is that the city needs to repair the pipes and they are doing that but the city needs to ramp up the pace in which they’re doing that.” — ABC2 News.

Reisterstown Library, Staff Going Green

“Rain barrels are a really simple way for homeowners, business owners, or anyone who owns a building, to pitch in and help reduce the amount of stormwater that’s running off their property and into Baltimore’s aging storm drain system,” said John Marra, rain barrel program coordinator for Blue Water Baltimore — Carroll County Times.

Residents Pool Efforts with Blue Water Baltimore to Help Towson Save the Bay

“Everything in the watersheds ends up in the Chesapeake Bay via storm drains, including trash, pesticides, garbage and dog waste,” said Community Organizer Elise Bruner, a Loch Raven native who lives in Loch Raven Village with husband, Will Bruner — Baltimore Sun.

City Looks at Ways to Stop Illegal Dumping in Parks

David Flores, of Blue Water Baltimore, an organization that tracks environmental pollution including dumping, says he was pleased to hear that housing is looking at proactive responses to parklands dumping. “This needs to be addressed,” he said, but he added that an after-the-fact investigation of illegal dumping is only part of the solution — Baltimore Brew.

Illegal Dumping in Carroll Park Contributing to Stream Pollution
Dump site near Carroll Park is Well-Known, says Blue Water Baltimore

Dumping at the location is hardly a new occurrence, says David Flores, Blue Water Baltimore’s Waterkeeper. Flores, whose group monitors the health of  the city’s waterways, says the spot along the Gwynns Falls Trail is a well-known site for illegal dumpers — Baltimore Brew.

Massive trash pile found dumped in Carroll Park
Grease Patrol: The City Steps up Enforcement on Restaurants Dumping Grease in the Sewers

“This is such a critical issue when it comes to mitigating and ameliorating these sewer overflows,” says David Flores, Baltimore Harbor WaterKeeper for the water-quality advocacy group Blue Water Baltimore. “I don’t see any explanation why a FOG inspection and enforcement control program would have not been undertaken by 2006 at the latest” — City Paper.

Baltimore Sewers: Time Bombs Buried Under the Streets
Local Organization Making Strides to Improve the Inner Harbor’s Water Quality
Trash Cleanup Ordered for Baltimore Harbor, Streams

“Pollution from trash is more than just an eyesore,” Van der Gaag said. “It also threatens public health and puts a drain on our economy – so doing more to reduce trash is good news for Baltimore families and businesses” — Baltimore Sun.