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The Healthy Harbor Report Card: Hope for the Harbor but More Efforts Needed

Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake talks about the importance of the City's waterways.

June 3, 2013

Today the Waterfront Partnership, along with representatives from Blue Water Baltimore, the Maryland Science Center, and the Choose Clean Water Coalition, officially released our highly-anticipated Healthy Harbor Report Card. The Harbor has received a grade of C-, indicating that it met water quality standards 40% of the time.

A crowd of over 50 people attended the conference to hear about how the health of the Harbor has measured up over the past year. Speakers included Councilman James Kraft and Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, who emphasized how important water is to our lifestyle, neighborhoods, and economy. Councilman Kraft also highlighted the pending the stormwater fee which he feels will help ensure cleaner waterways.

This is the first year we have had the amount of data necessary to produce an overall grade for the Harbor.  In previous years we relied on a single sampling site that provided a limited set of data.  Thanks to a grant from the Abell Foundation, in 2012 we were able sample 30 sites on a weekly basis, getting our first comprehensive look at the Harbor’s water quality and generating the first overall grade.

Adam Lindquist, our Healthy Harbor coordinator, explained what factors are behind the C- grade. Although this is actually a higher grade than was expected, we can attribute it to the dry summer Baltimore experienced last year—less rain means less pollution runs off our land and into the Harbor. However, Adam pointed out, we cannot just rely on dry weather. To implement real change, we need to continue our efforts to clean up the Chesapeake Bay by reducing stormwater runoff and repairing failing pipes and infrastructure.

Our report card also highlights several ecofriendly projects of the past year. Last spring the Bolton Street Synagogue removed 5,000 square feet of asphalt from its parking lot and added new section of the Stony Run Path. More recently five City schools participated in the Healthy Harbor Clean Water Schools project to increase recycling and reduce litter. And finally, Waterfront Partnership’s 2,000 square foot floating wetlands, implanted on the Harbor’s edge to remove pollution from the water, are now 1 year old.

The conference closed on a note of encouragement—Maryland Science Center President Van Reiner emphasized that each individual can take steps to keep our waterways clean.

The Harbor’s first real grade leaves room for improvement.  We look forward to reporting more progress next semester!

Click here to download the 2012 Healthy Harbor Report Card!

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