Baltimore City agrees to $4.75M settlement over wastewater pollution

Nov. 7, 2023
A lawsuit on behalf of the Maryland Department of the Environment will require Baltimore City’s Public Works Department to pay a settlement payment and take corrective actions.

Baltimore City’s Public Works Department agreed to a $4.75 million settlement payment over pollution from city-owned wastewater treatment plants, according to a press release from the Chesapeake Bay Foundation.

The Chesapeake Bay Foundation said that the failure of Baltimore City’s Back River and Patapsco wastewater treatment plants has caused millions of pounds of contamination to enter the Chesapeake bay and damage water quality for surrounding communities.

“Today’s settlement is an encouraging step forward but is the first step of many needed to rectify the harm these plants have done to the Bay,” said Allison Colden, executive director for Maryland at the Chesapeake Bay Foundation. “Much of Maryland’s progress in Bay cleanup has been achieved by reducing pollution from wastewater and we cannot backslide on that progress.”

The settlement requires Baltimore City to:

  • Achieve appropriate staffing levels
  • Post quarterly updates online on the progress of corrective actions
  • Hold public meetings annually for each facility
  • Install signs to warn of submerged wastewater treatment effluent pipes and lighting to indicate any sewage bypass and release at the plants
  • Hire an independent engineer to assess plant performance

The lawsuit was filed by the Office of the Attorney General, on behalf of the Maryland Department of the Environment, on January 2022, claiming that the city violated its discharge permits and state water pollution laws.