Tuesday 17 July 2018


Since 2011, more than 100 million gallons of sewage have entered streets, homes, parks and waterways in Baltimore. After failing to meet the 2016 deadline, a proposed legal agreement with Baltimore City pushes repairs to our aging sewer system to 2033.

Join our petition to the EPA and Maryland to demand adequate and enforceable requirements to eliminate sewer overflows and protect our communities and waterways from raw sewage! Please forward this email to colleagues, friends, and family to join the united fight for clean water in Baltimore!

Our Petition

To the Environmental Protection Agency and Maryland Department of the Environment:

Baltimore’s neighborhood streams, rivers and Harbor receive failing grades year after year; highs levels of fecal bacteria in our waterways prevent safe swimming, fishing and boating; and chronic sewer backups threaten public health by contaminating homes and businesses.  The City was required to fix Baltimore’s pipes and eliminate sewage leaks by January 1, 2016.  However, a substantial amount of the work to fix the pipes remains incomplete and the sewer leaks continue. Without written explanation, the EPA and State have now proposed giving the City until 2033 to get the job done.

We are individuals and community, environmental and health organizations who demand adequate and enforceable requirements to eliminate sewer overflows and protect our communities and waterways from raw sewage as soon as possible.

We respectfully request that EPA and MDE revise the proposed Consent Decree to:

  • Require actual improvements in water quality after each phase of infrastructure work is completed.Require water quality monitoring and modeling of city waterways for indicators most closely associated with raw sewage discharges and human health threats, including fecal bacteria, nutrients, and sediment.
  • Assist residents whose homes have been damaged by basement backups caused by the City’s sewage system.  At minimum, this should include rapid response and property cleanup by the City, financial assistance from the City with cleanup costs and property losses caused by backups, and prioritization of infrastructure projects that will benefit the communities experiencing the most backups.
  • Require public notifications within 24 hours for all discharges or releases of raw sewage to parks, communities, and city waterways.
  • Require the City to provide detailed annual reports to the public on how it has spent taxpayer money on sewage infrastructure work under the Consent Decree.  Reports should cover, at minimum, the amount of money raised by the City for this work, all expenditures on sewage infrastructure projects, and a description of exactly what was achieved by the projects.
  • Require the City to find and eliminate sources of sewage contamination in Baltimore’s stormwater system by a date that is specified in the Consent Decree.
  • Include conditions ensuring that Baltimore’s neighborhood streams, rivers, and the Harbor meet standards showing that they are safe for public recreation, including swimming, fishing, and boating, by a date that is specified in the Consent Decree.

We also call on EPA and MDE to hold a public meeting, with at least 30 days’ notice, at which the agencies appear and explain their responses to the written comments submitted by the public during this public comment period.


READ WATERKEEPERS CHESAPEAKE'S Comments on the Proposed Modified Consent Decree for Baltimore City

Press Statement: James River Association Objects to Draft Permit to Dewater Coal Ash Ponds at Dominion’s Chesterfield Power Station

Richmond (July 22, 2016): Yesterday, the James River Association (JRA) joined with the Southern Environmental Law Center and citizens from across the watershed to express concerns to the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) over the terms of a draft permit to dewater coal ash ponds at Dominion’s Chesterfield Power Station on the James River. JRA believes that the draft permit falls short in adequately protecting the river, the species that rely on it and the citizens that live within its watershed.

The dewatering process is the first step in closing the coal ash ponds at Chesterfield, which hold over 280 million gallons of wastewater. “We must ensure that all wastewater is treated to meet water quality standards prior to discharge into the river,” said Jamie Brunkow, Lower James Riverkeeper for James River Association. Pollution limits in the draft permit are currently not protective of public health and aquatic life – including the federally endangered Atlantic sturgeon. The draft permit relies on a mixing zone to dilute wastewater, which includes harmful levels of metals such as arsenic, lead or chromium. The permit also allows Dominion to discharge cooling water at excessively hot temperatures – as high as 129 o F according to Dominion’s discharge monitoring reports.Dominion Power Plant

Chesterfield Power Station is adjacent to a portion of the James River where federally endangered Atlantic sturgeon are known to spawn. “The combined effects of toxic pollution and hot water discharge at Chesterfield Power Station pose serious threats to sturgeon and other aquatic life,” said Brunkow.

Last fall, two Atlantic sturgeon larvae were collected near the power station during a study conducted by the utility. The presence of the freshly hatched sturgeon further suggests that spawning is taking 

“We urge DEQ to amend this permit to treat coal ash wastewater to safe limits, and to address the long overdue problem of thermal pollution from this facility,” Brunkow said. The James River Association, in partnership with the Southern Environmental Law Center submitted formal comments to DEQ that are also posted on JRA’s website.


ABOUT THE JAMES RIVER ASSOCIATION: The James River Association (JRA) is a member-supported nonprofit organization founded in 1976 to serve as a guardian and voice for the James River. Throughout the James River’s 10,000-square mile watershed, JRA works through core programs – Education, Community Conservation, Watershed Restoration, River Advocacy and the Riverkeeper Program – to help people of all ages enjoy, appreciate and protect the beauty and health of the James River for future generations to enjoy. For more information on JRA visit www.thejamesriver.org.

Do You Know Where Your Fruit’s Been?

By Betsy Nicholas, July 22, 2016, The Baltimore Sun

A plump, juicy peach; an ear of crisp sweet corn; a ruby red tomato just picked from the vine — summer produce abounds on Maryland dining room tables this time of year. Fresh fruits and vegetables are important parts of our diets and an important part of our Maryland heritage. But do you know where your produce comes from?