Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Baltimore Has BO

Bad odor from a sewer system and a state agency that are failing

Evidence grows that the agency has allowed Baltimore County (as well as Baltimore City) to slow-walk and even subvert the infrastructure improvements needed to reduce the threat of pollution from untreated sewage.

It took Blue Water Baltimore, a non-profit environmental organization, to alert MDE to massive sewage discharges into Bay tributaries from two wastewater treatment plants operated by Baltimore City. The organization’s Harbor Waterkeeper questioned whether MDE’s oversight of the plants has been too lax.

The same question applies to MDE’s oversight of the part of the sewer system operated by Baltimore County.

For example, new evidence bolsters the conclusion that the county has overstated the capacity of the system in the Jones Falls “sewershed” to safely manage sewage generated by new development, threatening one of the county’s most prized assets, Lake Roland.

It now appears likely that the county is not only violating state and county law, but also the terms of the 2005 consent decree it signed with MDE and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) aimed at stopping sanitary sewer overflows (SSOs).

The city is bound by a separate 2002 consent decree. MDE has primary responsibility for enforcing both decrees. It must prove that it is capable of doing so.

It's a common enough story, state agencies manage to overlook the failings of other governmental agencies, or, indeed, even private industries in league with other agencies. 

And yes, Baltimore stinks, literally. It owes the state to clean up its own shit.

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