City works to stem flow of sewage into stream Storm damage blamed for Herring Run pollution

June 28, 1996|By Alex Gordon | Alex Gordon,CONTRIBUTING WRITER

City crews continued to work yesterday to stem the flow of raw sewage into stretches of Herring Run and Chinquapin Run in Northeast Baltimore.

Last week's heavy storms sheared off portions of two concrete sewer pipes, allowing raw sewage to run into the waterways instead of routing it to a wastewater treatment plant, said Quentin Banks, spokesman for the Maryland Department of Environment.

The city Department of Public Works started repairs June 20 on a section of Herring Run under Cold Spring Lane, adjacent to Morgan State University. In addition, Health Department officials have posted 14 red signs along the Run, warning passers-by to avoid the polluted water.

The city has yet to tackle the damage at Chinquapin Run, a tributary of Herring Run.

Public Works Director George Balog says that the scope of the sewage leak is compounded by boulders and debris that were carried by fast-moving water and jammed into the sewer lines. "This is a nightmare," he said.

Balog believes that it will take another week for workers to complete the cleanup and estimates the cost at a "couple hundred thousand dollars when it's all over."

"We are concerned about the environment and the people, and are directing all our efforts to fixing the problem," he said.

Balog says that he was notified yesterday of the broken sewer line in Chinquapin Run and that his office plans to address the sewage problem, which he noted was less serious than that of Herring Run.

But Bob Whitby, president of the Herring Run Watershed Association, says that he notified Public Works of the situation Monday.

"There seems to be no passion on the part of the city to do anything," Whitby said.

Whitby says his concern is heightened because the sewage is flowing in a stream located in a park where many neighborhood children play. "The community just has to know that this is a dangerous situation, and right now it is not aware. We'll be lucky if we don't have a number of illnesses result from this. The transmission of disease is the most serious danger -- people coming into contact with fecal matter," he said.

Earlier this week, Mickey Montgomery was walking his golden retriever along Chinquapin Run when he was struck by the sight and smell of the water.

"I noticed cloudy water in the stream and my dog was drinking it, so I pulled it out," he said. "Then I smelled the water, and I realized that something was wrong."

Banks says that time and rains usually correct sewage problems, but in this case, he advises that people exercise caution.

"No sewage spill into any tributary is common," Banks said. "Of course, it is not healthy to walk in the sewage stream -- it's just like walking into a toilet."

Pub Date: 6/28/96

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