Baltimore saw 189M gallons of sewage overflow this year

Baltimore saw 189M gallons of sewage overflow this year

BALTIMORE (WBFF) - 2018 is Baltimore's wettest year on record.

The heavy rain has been causing even more problems for Baltimore's sewage system.

According to a state database, Baltimore City has reported over 189 million gallons of sewage overflows.

"We're talking about a lot of volume here. It's pretty significant when it comes to our waterways," said Alice Volpitta, lead water quality scientist with Blue Water Baltimore.

So how much sewage is 189 million gallons?

Volpitta said: "285 Olympic sized swimming pools, or half the volume of the Roman Coliseum full of raw sewage."

Any time heavy rains overwhelm the system, sewage overflows.

With record rainfall this year and more tracking in place, the number is higher.

"It's exactly what you'd imagine human feces would smell like, and it was 4 inches high," said homeowner Belle Burr.

Blockages and backups also lead to nasty flooding in people's homes.

"From 2 a.m. Thursday morning until Sunday, actual human everything was coming up through our toilet, and the city basically kept saying, 'Well, it's on you,'" Burr said.

The basement in her Bel Air-Edison home has now been stripped in the clean-out.

Some of the family's priceless possessions are lost.

"We had things down here like my wedding dress, my husband's comic book collection; they're all gone. Our laundry room is gone. Our bathroom is gone. There was a sewage backup on the main city line," she said. "Our insurance is covering everything, but this is the city's fault and the city needs to pay for it."

Last Friday, DPW proposed a 30 percent rate hike over the next three years to pay for infrastructure improvements to the city's water and sewer lines.

"These are things we must do. These are daily essential needs for our citizens," said DPW director Rudy Chow.

Burr's basement and the almost 200 million gallon overflows reported this year, highlight the definite need.

"But, for a lot of these overflows, it's just the best guess of the DPW employee who goes out and responds to these overflow points," Volpitta said. "So, likely the number we're seeing is an underestimation of the real number."

The city is in the middle of a $430 million dollar project called the Headworks project at the Back River Wastewater Treatment Plant.

DPW told FOX45 that project is on track to be completed by 2020.

Once finished, it should eliminate more than 80 percent of sewage overflows, said DPW.

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