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Excessive fecal bacteria found in Maryland waterways

Several lakes and streams in Maryland are polluted with fecal matter. (WBFF)

BALTIMORE (WBFF) -- Several lakes and streams in Maryland are polluted with fecal matter.

Researchers from the Chesapeake Bay Foundation tested 40 different waterways after heavy rainfall in Harford, Baltimore, Howard, Frederick and Carroll counties, as well as Baltimore City.

In White Marsh, one of the affected areas, Adam Randlett’s home backs up to the Bird River.

"It’s like being a diabetic in a candy store," Randlett said. "It’s nice to look at, but you can’t do anything with it. That’s tough for me."

He said his dog, Marley, won’t go near the river anymore. “He used to be a water dog. He won’t jump in there anymore,” Randlett said.

Researchers say readings at some swimming holes have proven to be 450 times higher than federal safety standards.

"You want to see a nice sunrise and nice sunset, but you've got poop in your water," Randlett said.

Janet and Peter Terry have lived near Bird River for decades.

“Fifty years ago, I was able to take a boat out anywhere on this river with no problem," said Janet. "Now with the sediment pollution, we are unable to get our boat out, maybe except on a very high tide, and then we have to make sure we get it back in before the tide goes out.”

The Terrys have been working with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation to help test for possible bacteria. When results came in that Bird River had bacteria levels more than 400 times the amount considered safe for anyone to swim in, they grew concerned.

“You’re looking at your groundwater wondering if the water is being filtered appropriately,” said Janet.

Researchers say many tested sites had elevated bacteria levels even during dry weather.

“We’re trying to get our elected officials and the folks who are supposed to monitor these issues and be responsible and do what the state of Maryland and the federal government require, and not give developers carte blanche to do whatever they want,” said Peter Terry.

The Terrys have started the Bird River Restoration campaign. They are hoping others will participate to enhance waterways' health.

“I think as a community, as a people, we should want to clean up our Earth, the water,” Randlett said.

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