Baltimore’s aging sanitary sewer system causes millions of gallons of raw sewage to enter our waterways each year.

Getting sewage pollution in our waterways under control is a complicated challenge. To address the issue we work with volunteers, legislators, enforcement agencies, and residents in seeking effective solutions.

We work to enforce water pollution laws, advocate for sound policy making, and ensure our local government is held accountable when sewer overflows happen. Our Waterkeeper team monitors and samples local waterways for several water quality parameters that help track down sewage overflows.

Current Issues

Baltimore City’s Building Backup Reimbursement Program

Sewage backups in homes and buildings are a big problem in BaltimoreHeavy rainfall coupled with the city’s crumbling infrastructure causes toxic sewage to back up into residents’ homes thousands of times a year. These backups put residents’ health, homes, and financial security at risk.

In April 2018, Baltimore City launched a pilot Expedited Reimbursement Program to help residents with the costs of cleaning up a basement backup. The pilot will help the city create a permanent program required by the Sanitary Sewer Consent Decree. After 18 months, has the project helped?

  • More than 4,600 reports of building sewage backups were reported to 311 in the program’s first year, but only 74 households applied for reimbursement. Of those, Baltimore City Department of Public Works (DPWrejected all but 10.
  • Of the $2 million set aside to reimburse residents, less than $15,000 (less than one percent) has been paid out.
  • Eligible applications can receive up to $2,500. However, these funds can only be used for cleanup and disinfecting. In many cases, this is far from enough.
  • Program restrictions and requirements disqualify thousands of people who would benefit most from this program.

Lifting restrictions, publicizing the program better, and increasing the dollar amount that can be reimbursed would all make things easier for residents who find sewage backed up into their basement.

In order to make these things happen, we need to stand up against sewage. Sewage doesn’t belong in our streets, or our homes!

Stand Up Against Sewage

Blue Water Baltimore strongly advocates for the local government to be held accountable when sewer overflows occur. We request they post water quality advisory signage, notify impacted communities and the news media, and cleanup the resulting waste water and sewage debris in a timely fashion.