This big, deep, dark, mystery being investigated by the Baltimore City Department of Public Works and the Maryland Department of the Environment is more of the city's (and state's) cover-up of deplorable conditions at the Inner Harbor. Kimberly Burgess, the city's director of surface water management, won't confirm or rule out a sewage spill or leak. Meanwhile, a spokesman for the Department of the Environment discounts the odor complaints as likely a continuation of the algae bloom that generated noxious smells and killed fish in the harbor.
Let's come out of the rabbit hole and say what it is. This was the result of a massive sanitary sewage discharge into the harbor. On its best day, the water in the harbor is an ugly witches brew of smelly, grayish colored water with an underwater visibility of a couple of feet. Highly polluted water like this is nothing new to the old East Coast ports and is caused by industrial discharge, polluted storm water runoff, and sanitary sewage discharge. On the day of the "big mystery," the water in the entire west end of the Inner Harbor was black, full of sanitary sewage debris and had the odor of concentrated sanitary sewage. At the plaza at Light and Pratt Streets, the smell was nauseating. The smell, and sight of the water taxis churning through the black sewage, was enough to make one sick.