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Fresh Water, Foul Sewage

The Dripby Fern Shen5:00 pmOct 23, 20170

City releases 41,000 more gallons of sewage into the Jones Falls

DPW says the cause has not been determined. Could it be another “fatberg”?

Above: State office building in the 400 block of East Preston Street is located near Outfall 67, an underground sewage overflow pipe where sewage has overflowed massively in recent years. The cracks in the building from subsidence in the soil were repaired in 2016. (Fern Shen)

Another 41,000 gallons of sewage has overflowed into the Jones Falls, the Department of Public Works reported today.

The latest wastewater spillage occurred in the “structured overflow” pipe located behind 428 East Preston Street, according to DPW.

The overflow, discovered on Friday, continued through the weekend until it was curtailed this morning.

“Bypass pumps stopped the flow around 11:00 a.m. today,” a DPW email said, adding that none of the human waste spilled onto city streets.

The agency said the cause of the overflow “has not been determined.”

Sanitary Sewer Outfall #72, the site of this latest sewage release, is one of several structured overflow pipes designed a century ago to relieve pressure and prevent back-ups when heavy rainfall mixes with sewage and overwhelms the sewer system.

Dry-Weather Overflow

Millions of gallons of sewage-laced rainwater have overflowed into the Jones Falls as a result of these structured overflows, which the city has agreed to stop using under a federal consent decree.

But this weekend’s overflow occurred during dry weather.

Could the cause have been a “fatberg”? DPW officials could not be reached late today to comment.

Last month, the agency attributed a sewage overflow of more than a million gallons below the Charles North neighborhood to a 20-foot-long lump of congealed grease and fat that had plugged a sewer main – a so-called “fatberg.”

Contractors hired by the city blasted out the rancid obstruction with high-pressure hoses and vacuum pumps – and warned residents and restaurants to stop putting cooking grease, baby wipes, dental floss and other clog-promoting substances into the overtaxed sewer system.

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