Residents are advised to avoid contact with water at Back River

BALTIMORE, MD—Due to contaminants in the Back River that can cause illness, the Maryland Department of Environment and the Maryland Department of Health issued an alert Friday advising residents to avoid contact with water .

The opinion contains the following recommendations:

  • Avoid contact with Back River water
  • Do not drink water from the stream
  • Do not swim or wade in the water
  • Always wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water before eating
  • If you accidentally touch the water, wash with soap and water as soon as possible
  • If you have open sores or sores that come in contact with stream water, talk to your health care provider.
  • If contact with water cannot be avoided, cover open wounds or sores with waterproof bandages

The advisory was issued in consultation with the Baltimore County Health Department and the City of Baltimore. The Baltimore County Health Department will post signs at Cox’s Point Park. The advisory will remain in effect until further notice.

“The health notice is a necessary and protective step in our broader effort to stabilize the situation and significantly improve the operation and maintenance of Baltimore’s world-class wastewater treatment asset,” the secretary said. to Environment Maryland, Ben Grumbles.

From Review:

The Maryland Department of Environment (MDE) is aware of independent water sampling in the Back River showing elevated levels of bacteria both upstream and downstream of the river’s sewage treatment plant. Back (WWTP). MDE began weekly sampling on April 19 to collect bacteria samples from the river and at the end of the sewage plant outfall. Results of that sampling, received on April 20, showed bacteria levels above the state water contact standard for samples taken at three of the four sampling sites.

MDE oversees a program in which beaches in the state, including Hart-Miller Island, are monitored for water quality during the summer swimming season and advisories are issued to the public when needed. MDE also provides fish consumption advisories, based on the potential long-term effects of PCBs and mercury, for state waterways, including Back River. Bacteria levels are used to assess whether the waters are safe for harvesting shellfish, including oysters, as shellfish are often eaten raw or partially cooked. These restrictions do not apply to fish or crabs.

The Maryland Environmental Service (MES), under Secretary Grumbles, oversees the operations and maintenance of the Back River Wastewater Treatment Plant and takes steps to ensure the city operates the facility in accordance with all conditions of its release permit and cease all illegal releases of the plant.

MES is making steady progress in providing the technical and operational resources that will help the City of Baltimore treat wastewater more efficiently. Eleven MES-approved operators, supplementing existing municipal staff, work in three shifts to enable round-the-clock coverage of the facility. MES maintenance activities include identifying problems, problem areas, potential safety issues and repairing or replacing numerous pumps, motors and controls around the plant. Maintenance also works with vendors to expedite the procurement process and update old failing equipment. MES is also cleaning and repairing two primary settling tanks and cleaning two digesters and bringing additional meters and lab equipment to improve the process control lab – the brain of the treatment system.

The City of Baltimore is working to commission the remaining primary settling tanks and has cleared vegetation and debris from two gravity sludge thickening tanks. The city has also restarted a major solids handling process that will reduce the amount of solids in the plant. The new intake project, completed last year, mitigated the impact of higher rainfall-induced flows by using two new equalization tanks for temporary storage. Finally, MES and Baltimore City are collaborating on an operator training program that will add to the city’s 27 permanently licensed operators while developing the next generation of wastewater treatment professionals.

The MES will remain in place for as long as necessary, in conjunction with the City of Baltimore, to achieve the goal of bringing this facility into compliance.

More information about the Back River Wastewater Treatment Plant, including the results of MDE’s sampling for bacteria at Back River, is available on the MDE website.

[Image via Pixabay]

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