New Water Quality Signs Protect Residents

New water quality advisory signage may now be found at access points to rivers and streams in the Baltimore area in an effort to inform the public regarding specific health-related waterway precautions.

Advisory Signage
The advisory signage from Baltimore City states, “Urban streams are subject to pollutants and runoff. Contact with the water should be avoided. Baltimore City is rebuilding its sanitary system to alleviate some of the pollution. Please do your part by not littering, by picking up after your dog and by not dumping anything into our storm drains. Call 311 to report suspect spills or overflows”

The advisory signage against coming in contact with the water was issued after unacceptably high levels of bacteria were found in water samples.

Water sign
Water quality advisory signage posted at access points to waterways in Baltimore.

Water Quality Monitoring

Blue Water Baltimore and Baltimore City closely monitor and sample the Baltimore Harbor, rivers, and streams for several different water quality parameters, such as bacteria, sewage pollution, and dissolved oxygen and chlorophyll, which are indicators for algae blooms resulting from stormwater nutrient pollution.

Contaminated conditions are produced from stormwater runoff during severe downpours, sewage leaks from cracked and broken pipelines, and wastewater overflows that lead into the storm drain system.

Water Treatment System
Baltimore’s aging wastewater treatment system is more than 100 years old and discharges millions of gallons of untreated sewage into Baltimore’s rivers and streams each year. In effort to repair the system, Baltimore signed the Consent Decree obligated the City to fund a comprehensive wastewater collection system evaluation and rehabilitation program by 2016.

Blue Water Baltimore has been working closely to ensure that the Consent Decree is being implemented properly and that all ongoing and future sewage spills are reported properly to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE), as well as to the public.

Blue Water Baltimore strongly advocated for the water quality advisory signage to be posted, until the City can complete repairs on the sewage system and our neighborhood rivers and streams are safe for fishing and swimming. Our mission is to fight to restore water quality by advocating sound policy and promoting for clean water and accountability to help protect public health. We are pleased that the City has taken this important step to post the advisory signage to help to warn the public of health related waterway precautions.

Until the signs come down, anyone who comes into contact with polluted river or stream water is advised to wash well with soap and warm water immediately.

Get involved in the active monitoring and protection of our local streams from pollution, and assist us with our advocacy and education efforts by being a voice in your community through our Adopt-A-Stream program. Adopt-A-Stream volunteers select a 1/4-mile section of a stream near their neighborhood that they would like to monitor on a regular basis for pollution and trash.

Water Quality Facts
1.    Baltimore’s sewage and water treatment system is more than 100 years old
2.    The City manages over 250 million gallons of wastewater daily
3.    There is a network of more than 3,000 miles of sewer lines
4.    Chronic sewage leaks lead to high levels of bacteria pollution during dry-weather conditions
5.    Massive wet-weather sewer overflows leads to very high levels of bacteria that persist for days
6.    Most locations monitored in Baltimore City regularly exceed the state’s weakest bacteria standard for contact recreation, such as kayaking

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