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Despite F grade for water quality, Harbor Splash is a go

Posted at 5:37 PM, Jun 21, 2024

BALTIMORE — For a while, getting into Baltimore's harbor was dangerous.

The water was polluted with sewage, and trash.

Then, Waterfront Partnership started working on creating a swimmable harbor in 2010.

"A lot has changed in the Baltimore harbor over the last 14 years. There have been innovative new technologies like Mr. Trash Wheel removing over a million pounds of trash and debris from the Baltimore harbor every single year," said Adam Lindquist, with the Waterfront partnership of Baltimore.

The Waterfront Partnership tests the harbor five days a week, checking the levels of fecal indicator bacteria.

"So that is bacteria that tells us if there is anything likely to be in the water that might make people ill. There is a threshold established by the EPA and if our bacteria risks are below that threshold, it is considered low risk for recreation," said Lindquist.

Recent testing from Blue Water Baltimore gave the harbor an F rating.

Though scores improved, an F rating means an unhealthy harbor, so why jump in?

"That does not concern me because the letter grade assigned by Blue Water Baltimore does not factor in bacteria levels which are the most important indicator for swimming safety," said Lindquist.

When people jump into Baltimore's harbor this Sunday it isn't the end of the waterfront partnership's efforts.

"Harbor splash is not a victory lap but it is a recognition that we've reached the tipping point and now with routine water monitoring we can use the harbor for recreation," said Lindquist.