Photo: Blue Water Baltimore

Photo: Blue Water Baltimore

Guest post by Elise Bruner of Blue Water Baltimore

You may have noticed that the water in Baltimore, including the Inner Harbor, is not quite as clean as we would like. The Harbor and its surrounding watersheds recently earned an F for its overall health. However, a lot of work is being done to address that grade and we are already seeing some improvements.

Baltimore City is made up of four watersheds. Think of a watershed like a bathtub—everything in the tub will eventually be washed down the drain. In the same way, when it rains, everything in a watershed will be washed into the nearest storm drain, and into the closest body of water. In Baltimore, our storm drains drain directly to the nearest stream, without being filtered or treated. That means the same dog waste, trash, and pesticides you see on the street end up in the nearest stream, river, and the Harbor and Chesapeake Bay.

Because we live in an urban environment, hard surfaces (roofs, roads, sidewalks) do not allow rain water to filter through as it would through grass and trees. This increases the amount of stormwater flowing down the sidewalks, through storm drains, and often into our basements!

Baltimore’s pipe infrastructure is aging, and is not equipped to handle the increasing amount of water.  They result in collapse and cross-contamination with sewage pipes, meaning sewage often leaks into the streams, rivers, and harbor.

Blue Water Baltimore works to educate the public on the problem of stormwater pollution (the only form of water pollution that is still increasing!), monitor water quality, advocate for clean water, and work with communities to clean and green their neighborhoods. We plant trees, help coordinate community clean ups, and hold rain barrel workshops, among many other activities. We also rip out impervious pavement and install green roofs, blue alleys (pictured here) that help filter pollutants out of the water, slowing it down, and acting as a natural buffer. Greening neighborhoods also helps to reduce crime, improve air quality and other public health indicators, as well as increase property values.

Please keep us in prayer as we work to connect with different communities throughout the city and parts of the county, for the ability to listen well, and the energy to persevere with the great amount of work there is to do!

We rely on volunteers to help up complete our work, in many other ways besides what I’ve listed here! Check out or website, events calendar, or contact me at for more information or to get involved.

This summer, join us by taking care of our trees at Mulch Madness on July 11, spend some time on the water through Canoe & Scoop in Middle Branch Park August 8, or join us for an O’s game July 30.