two men in safety gear standing next to a truck

Fighting for Clean Water With Baltimore City DPW

As our 10th birthday celebration continues, we’re shining a spotlight on one of our allies in the fight for clean water, the Waterway Pollution Investigation Team in the Baltimore City Department of Public Works.  This dedicated group of people receives your reports, follows up on them, and hunts down the source of the pollution in order to solve the problems and keep our waterways clean. Van Sturtevant, one of the City’s top Pollution Control Analysts, describes how the process works:

“We start our investigation at the reported outfall.  Then, using special apps we have that map out all the City stormdrain pipes, we track the pollution up into the system.  We run chemical tests, and do visual inspections throughout the pipes, until we find the problem.  The part I love the most is the hunting, the detective work.  That’s what brings the most reward for us – when we identify the source and can have it eliminated.”

We’ve been partnering with this team at DPW for the past ten years, but we couldn’t do it all by ourselves; the unique thing about this partnership is that it relies on YOU, the people living in and around Baltimore.  As Van points out, “what we’ve done together in the past ten years has been awesome.  Blue Water Baltimore is doing an outstanding job getting the community involved.  Our staff alone isn’t enough to cover the entire city, so by having this partnership with BWB and the residents of Baltimore City, we can actually accomplish much more.”

To help the team with their investigations, Van shared a few tips for pollution reporters:

  1. Be descriptive about the pollution location.  While the 311 app requires a street address, you can use the descriptive text boxes to give more detailed instructions for finding the problem areas.
  2. Take pictures.  Photographic evidence of the problem will help DPW evaluate the severity of the issue, and it helps them find the spot you’re reporting by providing context clues for the location.
  3. To report pollution in our streams and Harbor, use the 311 category called “Waterway Pollution Investigation.”  This will send the report to the proper team, reducing the overall response time.

Once again, our partnership with DPW proves that we are stronger together.  Help us keep an eye on our local waterways by reporting pollution whenever you see it.  If you have a tip to share about a polluter, you can also submit a report anonymously through our online pollution reporting tool. [ ] 

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