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Would you take a dip into Baltimore's Inner Harbor?

Inner Harbor Baltimore
Posted at 2:07 PM, Nov 09, 2023
and last updated 2023-11-13 13:22:07-05

BALTIMORE — We walk past Baltimore's Inner Harbor all the time, but we've never once speculated that one day it would be nice enough to swim in.

In 2009 it was just a plan discussed among members of the Waterfront Partnership of Baltimore.

Now, through the Healthy Harbor Initiative, the unthinkable could quite possibly be the reality.

"The Baltimore Harbor is way more swimmable today than it's ever been before and we're actually going to host a public swim event next year,” said Adam Lindquist who is the Vice President of the Healthy Harbor Initiative.

The initiative provides a roadmap for cleaning up the harbor and the waterways leading to the harbor.

Mayor Brandon Scott joined officials with the Waterfront Partnership on Thursday to share insights and analysis on the most recent assessment of harbor health.

According to the report, things are heading in the right direction.

"The addition of the trash wheels helps with the amount of trash that we're getting. The improvements to the sewer system have had the greatest effect on the water quality in the Baltimore Harbor,” said Allison Blood, who is the Environmental Program Manager with the Healthy Harbor Initiative.

Blood also said they test the water five days a week and sites at the harbor are passing 80% of the time due to many contributing factors.

With the sewer upgrades in 2021, Baltimore waterways have seen an immediate and consistent reduction in sewer overflows.

Since 2018, sewage overflows are down 97%.

From 2021 to 2022, the Department of Public Works reported a 75% reduction in volume while the number of sewer overflows has dropped by an additional 94% from 2021 through the first half of 2023.

With this current pace, officials are planning the first public swim in the Baltimore Harbor in over 40 years in 2024.

There is no exact date set for the splash but late spring or summer of 2024 is the projected time frame. There are also plans to put in other recreational activities and maybe one day even a beach.

"There's all sorts of other things to be concerned about in the Baltimore Harbor. Boat traffic, weather, sediment at the bottom of the harbor,” said Lindquist. “We want people to come out and swim only at designated events.”