According to the Baltimore Department of Public Works (DPW), nearly 2.7 million gallons of sewer water was released from several structured overflows, including West Lanvale Street, North Charles Street, 428 East Preston Street and 1901 Falls Road, into the Jones Falls.
Prior to 2016, Baltimore had paid an estimated $1.8 million in penalties for overflows. The penalties were for sewer overflows, failure to meet key dates and to provide proper public notification of sewer overflows. The City was required to eliminate flow restriction at the Black River facility and two other structured overflows by 2021, but failed to meet the deadline.
A century ago, the structured overflows were built into the sewer system. In 2016, the Maryland Department of the Environment partnered with the U.S. Department of Justice, Baltimore city and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to improve its sewer system. The proposed project will cost an estimated $2 billion and should be completed by 2030.
The two-phase approach to modify the sewer system will significantly reduce sewage backups in homes and eliminate nearly all wet weather overflows by January 2030. Under Phase I, the city will be required to clean all sewer lines, with a diameter greater than eight inches every seven years and make the necessary repairs to keep the sewer lines in good condition. By the end of this phase, 83 percent of sewer overflows will be eliminated, according to Baltimore officials.
The Phase II plan will not begin until December 2022 and is scheduled to be complete by December 2030, with two years of monitoring performance of the completed project.