$1.6B plan submitted to help Baltimore's sewage from leaking

Posted at 12:44 PM, Sep 07, 2017
and last updated 2017-09-07 13:40:36-04

State and federal environmental officials have submitted a $1.6 billion plan to stop Baltimore's sewage from leaking into waterways when it rains. 

Wednesday in Baltimore federal court, officials laid out 13 years of work needed to prevent millions of gallons of sewage from washing into the Patapsco and Back rivers.

"This modification presents the best path forward to eliminating sanitary sewer overflows in the City of Baltimore," said EPA acting Regional Administrator Cecil Rodrigues. "In response to public comments, the proposed modification establishes additional control measures, provides greater public transparency, and addresses basement backups."

The plan, which still requires court approval, lays out two phases. Phase I will be completed by January 2021, and Phase II by December 2030. 

Phase I is currently going on, and it requires Baltimore to fix the hydraulic restriction at the Back River wastewater treatment plant, have structural improvements, and a series of sewer upgrades. Phase I alone is expected to fix 83 percent of the overflow problem. 

RELATED: Over 2M gallons of sewage overflow into Jones Falls

Phase II plans to monitor rainfall and flow in its collection systems. This data will be used to develop a plan which is due in December 2022. 

Once Phase II is done, the plan is to monitor the collection system for two more years, with a final report due July 31, 2033. 

In addition to the two phases, the new plan includes new requirements relating to the Emergency Response Plan including: a plan to notify the public of SDUOs and to post signs in areas of chronic overflows and SDUOs; a plan on how they city will respond to basement backups; a plan on public education regarding basement backups; and, implementing a pilot program to provide expedited reimbursement of cleanup costs arising from capacity related backups.

The court must sign off on the plan for it to be adopted.

The Associated Press contributed to this report