Health Advisory Warns the Back River is Unsafe for Recreational Contact
Chesapeake Legal Alliance is representing Blue Water Baltimore (BWB) in a lawsuit against Baltimore City for ongoing violations of the Clean Water Act at the Back River wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) and Patapsco WWTP. As the two largest WWTPs in the state of Maryland, the pollution from these plants is causing environmental damage, posing public health risk in the Back River and Patapsco River and threatening the state’s ability to achieve Bay Cleanup Goals.
Blue Water Baltimore has been analyzing bacteria samples taken in coordination with the Back River Restoration Committee downstream of the Back River WWTP and sharing data results with Maryland Department of Environment (MDE) since January 2022. BWB’s data show intermittent spikes in bacteria levels far above the safe limit for human contact – in some instances over 180 times the threshold. MDE began its own routine monitoring of the Back River near the Back River WWTP in late April and also found recent high spikes near the plant discharge pipe.
In response to the unsafe bacteria levels, the state issued an advisory to avoid contacting water in the Back River, a popular recreation area.
“Posting signs and issuing an advisory for the Back River is a great first step to protect the public,” said Angela Haren, Senior Attorney at Chesapeake Legal Alliance. “The same warning signs are also urgently needed in areas around Baltimore Harbor where people recreate and fecal bacteria levels often fluctuate well above the safe limit.”
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