New Project Proposed To Improve Harbor Water Quality

BALTIMORE (WJZ)—Coming up for air. A plan to pump oxygen into a small portion of the Inner Harbor holds the promise of improving water quality.

Pat Warren reports the experiment is part of the quest for healthier waterways.

Starving for air. Fish in the Inner Harbor floated belly up for lack of oxygen in May 2009. People in downtown Baltimore don’t need to see a fish kill to know something’s wrong.

“It smelt like fish food or an aquarium center or something like that,” said one downtown patron.

“I live about three blocks from the park, so you could smell it up there, and when you opened the windows, you want to close the windows,” said a downtown resident.

Now it’s fresher with wildlife and people enjoying the water and each other.

But summer temperatures can have disastrous effects. That’s why environmentalists and engineers have teamed up to study ways to get more oxygen into these troubled waters.

“We’re going to be blowing bubbles in the water,” said Tom Sprehe, of KCI Technologies. “Little tiny bubbles, and then in addition, just the mixing of the lower water to the surface will improve oxygen.”

It’s a small, experimental effort, but fans of the waterfront think it’s worth it.

“I do,” said Carrie Padgett. “Have you seen this water? Do you see how dirty this water is, so they do need it.”

“Can’t hurt to try, huh?” said another resident.

Better than can’t hurt – it could help provide a cure.

“The patient is lying on the floor gasping for oxygen, give ’em oxygen and that’s kinda the idea here,” Sprehe said.

This is the question-answering phase of the project that could lead to a better understanding of what’s needed, as well as what’s a waste of time.

Blue Water Baltimore is a partner in the project. It’s the leading environmental voice for regional waterways.

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