On Thursday, June 4, Blue Water Baltimore and Waterfront Partnership celebrated the release of our annual Healthy Harbor Report Card and one year of the Inner Harbor Water Wheel cleaning up tons of trash before it entered Baltimore’s waterways.
Report Card Findings
The Report Card acknowledges that there are signs of improvement, yet our waterways are failing due to excessive bacteria from sewage and storm runoff which makes the water unsafe to touch, much less to swim in many places.
The report card, which grades the water quality of four main waterways thoughout Baltimore, revealed failing grades for the Jones Falls, Baltimore Harbor and tidal portion of the Patapsco River. The Gwynns Falls stream was the first body of water since monitoring began in 2012 to not receive an overall failing grade, receiving a D-.
The sampling program for the water quality is run by Blue Water Baltimore and every week the Baltimore Harbor Waterkeeper and a fleet of dedicated volunteers go out and collect data at 30 sites in streams, river and our Baltimore Harbor. All the data is recorded and reported out each week on our Harbor Alert website.
While the grades for the waterways remain low, the 2014 report is the first with enough data to show an upward trend in water quality. To continue this trend, a number of projects are going on in Baltimore City and County that should result in better water quality scores. Four of these projects, that are detailed in the report card, include the Blue Alleys project, the Water Wheel, expanded street sweeping, and stream restoration.
Event Media Coverage
The important event received news coverage from an array of local new stations, including CBS Baltimore News, The Baltimore Sun, Baltimore Business Journal, and ABC2 News.
“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 to CBS Baltimore News.
Several speakers at the event, including an inspiring group of young environmentalists from John Eager Howard Elementary School in Baltimore City, spoke on the important campaigns being waged for clean water in Baltimore.
Moving Forward to Improve Water Quality
Additional speakers that gathered for the unveiling of the 2014 Healthy Harbor Report Card included, Blue Water Baltimore Executive Director Halle Van der Gaag, Waterfront Partnership Adam Lindquist, Director of Baltimore City Public Works Rudy Chow, and Maryland State Delegate Brooke Lierman.
Halle spoke not only on the importance of clean water, but on investing in our communities to accomplish more economic development across Baltimore City. She said, “Many of you may be thinking, okay Blue Water Baltimore, Healthy Harbor. Let’s get real. Baltimore City has problems deeper and more significant than a Healthy Harbor or a clean Chesapeake Bay, so why care about water quality? Who needs a healthy harbor when our city faces significant systemic and deep rooted problems around race and income equality? Happily, there are important campaigns being waged that hope to ensure Baltimore is a more peaceful and equitable city. So where does Clean Water fit in?”
Halle continued her speech in saying, “It all matters. And it is all connected. It is imperfect, and complex. But we can lean into a water quality agenda that moves us towards that goal of a more peaceful and equitable city that creates healthy streams, rivers, and communities. When we upgrade water infrastructure, we are creating jobs in our region. When we talk about green infrastructure, we are talking about removing acres of asphalt and concrete and replacing it with trees, gardens, and parks. Through these efforts, we can transform barren landscapes and literally breathe new life into them. Green practices help clean the air, shade our homes, and improve property values. Where does this work need to happen? Where is it already happening? Neighborhood by neighborhood, block by block. Diverse communities that are challenged by high levels of trash, joblessness and high temperatures. We at Blue Water have long recognized this is not just about an environmental agenda, but an agenda to build stronger communities.”
Join the Clean Water Movement
Blue Water Baltimore depends on the generous financial support and partnership of concerned community members to restore the water quality our rivers, streams and Baltimore Harbor. Join the clean water movement and donate to Blue Water Baltimore, sign up to volunteer or learn how you can reduce your stormwater footprint.