Watchdog: Clogged drain a standing (water) issue for years in Walbrook

City crews clear storm inlet in West Baltimore, lifting 'burden' on resident

  • This storm drain in the Walbrook neighborhood of West Baltimore remained clogged for years, according to a resident.
This storm drain in the Walbrook neighborhood of West Baltimore… (Kim Hairston, Baltimore…)
May 28, 2011|By Liz F. Kay, The Baltimore Sun

The problem: A storm drain in the Walbrook neighborhood of West Baltimore remained clogged for years.

The back story: Mae Grady called just about everyone about a blocked inlet on her street — "everyone but Channel 13," she said.

The drain, across the street from her house in the middle of the 3300 block of Walbrook Ave., had been stopped up for years, Grady said, and giant puddles formed.

"The water is so deep, it would catch a child," she said.

According to Grady, she and others reported the problem several times. Workers would arrive, then stay inside their trucks and not take action, she said.

"They come out, look at it, leave and do nothing," Grady said.

When rains are especially heavy, the water reaches the middle of the residential street, and, according to Grady, the stagnant puddle is a breeding ground for mosquitoes.

"You can see them working in this nasty, dirty water," she said.

On Tuesday, Watchdog contacted the Baltimore Department of Public Works, and crews had drained the water and cleared the inlet by Wednesday afternoon.

Soil had washed away from a vacant lot next to the storm drain, said DPW spokesman Kurt Kocher, forcing workers to scrape mud and debris off the inlet to expose the opening.

Kocher provided information about two calls to 311 involving clogged inlets in the area. According to the 2009 report from the first, at 3303 Walbrook, the inlet was cleared. A second call placed in March directed crews to the 3200 block of Walbrook, at the southeast corner with Bloomingdale Road — a block east of the puddle across from Grady's house.

Kocher suspected that crews in 2009 cleared the inlet across the street, on Grady's side of the road. They may have arrived during a dry period, when the puddle wasn't there or when cars were parked over it, he said.

"It was probably all covered with mud and grass," he said. "I think it just got lost."

Storm drains are usually located at corners, although some of the 54,000 inlets citywide are placed at low points in roads, Kocher said.

Not all standing water would be Public Works' responsibility, he added. Standing water on private property should be reported to the Housing Code Enforcement Division. If there's a dip in the public street that's collecting water, the Transportation Department would address it.

"If this has been going on for years, it shouldn't have," Kocher said.

But this situation serves as a reminder to all residents to keep gutters and inlet grates clear of leaves, dirt and other debris, he said.

Grady called Watchdog again Thursday to say thanks for the assistance.

"What we tried to do in 10 years, with your help we did in two days," she said. "It's just like a burden lifted off of you."

Who can fix this: Art Shapiro, chief of the maintenance division, Department of Public Works' Bureau of Water and Wastewater, 410-396-7870. City residents should call 311 to report problems.

Need help?

Is there something in your neighborhood that's not getting fixed? Tell us where the problem is and how long it's been there by emailing or calling 410-332-6735.

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