Harbor mess

Runoff: Curbing littering in Jones Falls watershed is one way to reduce the flotsam in Inner Harbor.

July 25, 1999

VISITORS may have been offended by the flotsam in the Inner Harbor after Thursday's monsoon-like rain, but trash thrown down storm drains or lying in gutters in the Jones Falls watershed will invariably make its way to the harbor.

There is no argument that all this debris was an unsightly mess. Although the Styrofoam cups, plastic soda bottles and fast-food wrappers were most noticeable, natural debris -- trees, branches, stumps and bushes -- were the largest component by weight.

Even with the best storm water management system, there is little that can be done to prevent this type of debris from flowing into the Inner Harbor. Barriers in storm drains are not feasible because they need to be cleaned regularly. If they aren't, the result is backups and flooding.

Something can be done about the rest. Efforts -- such as stenciling "Chesapeake drainage" on storm drains -- however, don't seem to have curbed the despicable practice of littering.

To its credit, the city's Department of Public Works was able to remove nearly all of the mess -- more than 40 tons -- within 24 hours. Sadly, until human habits change such work will be necessary after major storms.

Pub Date: 7/25/99

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