A break in a 54-inch sewage line inside a Baltimore area sewage pumping plant on Sunday is releasing 17 million gallons of sewage a day into the Patapsco River, with the pollution flow, including bacteria and excess nitrogen, expected to continue until the rupture can be fixed on Thursday.
As a result of the problems at the Patapsco Pumping Station at 4612 Annapolis Road, Baltimore and Anne Arundel County officials are warning people to avoid all contact with the Chesapeake Bay tributary, from Hammonds Ferry Road to the Middle Branch.
“The Department of Health has posted emergency closing signs along the section of the Patapsco River, and the closure will remain in effect until further notice,” the Anne Arundel County Health Department advised. “People coming in contact with the affected water are advised to wash well with soap and warm water immediately. Clothing should also be washed.”
Because of the ongoing spill, today (on March 28), the Maryland Department of the Environment closed shellfish harvesting in the Patapsco River and part of the adjacent Chesapeake Bay. "Shellfish are filter feeders with the ability to filter water and get food from microscopic organisms in the water," MDE wrote in an announcement about the closure. "If the waters are polluted, this filtering process can concentrate disease-causing organisms associated with raw sewage and other sources, such as animal waste."
By Tom Pelton
Chesapeake Bay Foundation
(Note: Photo of health warning at top is not from this sewage spill. The picture, taken by author, is of the Herring Run stream in Baltimore after a sewage leak)