Development Dilemma: Seeping, Smelly Sewage
Posted by Buzz Beeler on 5th October 2017
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Baltimore County  takes a dump in Towson streams | Photo Credit: wjhg.com

 

Heroic efforts by Green Towson Alliance (GTA) finds cause of sewage spills

GTA study reveals troubling issues dealing with the rapid and rampant development in Towson

 

The Baltimore Post received the following press release from the GTA, which we found to be startling. The piece is a comprehensive review of, once again, County Executive Kamenetz’s agenda for dealing with developers.

It was an extraordinary effort by dedicated and concerned community activists to compile this study. To that end, the Post is proud to publicize the comprehensive in depth investigation of a critical problem that impacts the lives of everyone in the Towson area. Just as important, we want to remind our readers what is happening throughout the county, as seen in our most recent article.

The Baltimore Post strongly believes that we reflect the voice of the people and do not intend to interfere with that process.

So let us begin this new journey into potentially more political shenanigans at the expense of the taxpayers and citizens of the Towson community, as well as those living beyond the county seat.

We will first start off with the GTA press release:


Twelve Years After Consent Decree, GTA Probe Finds Evidence that Baltimore County’s Sewer System Discharges Raw Sewage into Local Streams     A 15-month investigation by the Green Towson Alliance (GTA) into Baltimore County’s sewer system has uncovered major problems in Towson and west of Towson, including bacteria levels in local streams that feed into Lake Roland that indicate probable sewage leaks during heavy rainstorms. GTA volunteers who have extensive experience in water resources, infrastructure planning, sewer contracting and quantitative analysis launched this investigation after receiving reports of possible raw sewage in the Towson Run as it approaches Lake Roland. Baltimore County is under a 2005 Consent Decree settling federal EPA and MDE charges of violations of The Clean Water Act and state water pollution laws. Baltimore County paid fines and is required to take all measures to comply with these laws with a goal to eliminate all sanitary sewer overflows.


Since a lot of hard and difficult work went into this project, we intend to allow the people whose blood sweat and tears went into this project to give a firsthand account of this tremendous informational effort.

The true power in this county is held by the concerned citizens; however, the decisions of their elected officials impact the health and well-being of everyone concerned.

Since this is their story, we will roll the credits of those put this incredible study together:

ADEQUATE PUBLIC SEWER TASK FORCE OF THE GREEN TOWSON ALLIANCE:

Larry Fogelson, Retired MD State Planner, Rogers Forge Resident
Tom McCord, Former CFO, and MD Industry CPA, Ruxton Resident
Roger Gookin, Retired Sewer Contractor, Towsongate Resident

With that said, let’s get to the study that uncovers the stink, brought to us by the diligent work of the GTA. Below are various sections of the study that we believe have the most significant impact on our environment.


The wording below is from the actual study compiled by the GTA.

JONES FALLS SEWER SYSTEM INVESTIGATION AND REPORT

It is shocking that in the year 2017, human waste is discharged into open waters. The Green Towson Alliance (GTA) believes the public has a right to know that continuing problems with the Baltimore County sanitary sewer system are probably contributing to dangerous bacteria in Lake Roland and the streams and waterways that flow into it.

This paper is the result of 15 months of inquiries and analysis of information provided by the County and direct observations by individuals with expertise in various professional disciplines related to this topic. GTA welcomes additional information that might alter our analysis and disprove our findings. To date, the generalized types of responses GTA has received to questions generated by our analysis do not constitute proof, or provide assurance, that all is well.

In the summer of 2016, after hearing reports about raw sewage overflows in Towson Run, GTA members with knowledge and experience in water resources, infrastructure planning, construction, and quantitative research walked the route of the Towson Run sewer line. Probable raw sewage overflow locations and fresh survey stakes were observed and documented in some locations. This led to inquiries about whether the County had plans to accommodate increased flows from a growing downtown Towson and Towson University. GTA learned that a relief sewer for Towson Run was planned. GTA then questioned how increased sewage flows from new development would or could be handled further downstream through the Lake Roland interceptor and into the City, and how well the County was addressing the infiltration and inflow (leaky pipes and illegal connections) that contribute to overloading the sewer system.’

As part of their investigation the GTA reviewed local, state and federal laws and regulations including a Consent Decree meant to clean-up local waterways and the 2014 and 2017 Baltimore County Water Supply and Sewerage Plan Triennial Reviews.2 This investigation and report describes the problems and issues we identified and the Appendices provide more detailed information.

Our requests resulting from the investigation are:

  1. EPA and MDE should undertake an open, transparent review of Baltimore County’s progress in complying with the 2005 Consent Decree.
  2. The County should provide all of the information we have requested as listed on Page 44 of Appendix I. This information includes the current and projected sewerage facility conditions, flows, projects, and needs in the Jones Falls Sewershed.

Given the length and complexity of this study, is imperative that we approach this with the same journalistic integrity involving such major reports as the Watergate investigation, in which hundreds of articles written by journalist Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein ultimately held the most powerful man in the world, Richard Nixon, accountable.

Same premise goes for the Academy award-winning film Spotlight.

These two projects taught us that, in order to keep the ball rolling, it is imperative to keep the subject matter in front of the public.

With that in mind, stay tuned for the next installment of this groundbreaking study by a group of citizens who have devoted a big piece of their lives in order to obtain the truth for citizens of Baltimore County.

Again, The Baltimore Post feels that those who formulated this insightful study be allowed to share it with the rest of us without any opportunity to inject fake news.

(Note:  More to come on this important study, including links to other publications.)