BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Before polluters can be hauled into court, they have to be caught. That’s led Maryland’s attorney general to conduct ongoing environmental audits along Maryland’s waterways.
Alex DeMetrick reports the Inner Harbor is the state’s dirtiest.
Tourists usually cruise the Inner Harbor, but Tuesday it was the Attorney General.
“You don’t want to stay in an ivory tower. You need to get out on the water to see what’s out there,” said Doug Gansler, Maryland Attorney General.
Not much to see Tuesday, but when it rains, there’s plenty. Trash is the most obvious pollutant, but that’s only the surface problem. A lot more spills out of storm drains.
“Water quality, most due to stormwater. Bacterial contamination and trash,” said Dr. William Dennison, University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science.
All of which makes the Inner Harbor Maryland’s dirtiest water and an ongoing priority.
“Our biggest role is enforcement. We actually prosecute and we have dozens of ongoing cases involving people who have polluted the Inner Harbor or continue to pollute the Inner Harbor,” Gansler said.
But during his boat ride, Gansler heard of wider, more anonymous sources to work into his environmental audit of the Inner Harbor.
“It’s our trash, it’s our fertilizer, it’s our cars that are generating all the junk that makes its way into the Inner Harbor and becomes this toxic soup,” said Baltimore Harbor Waterkeeper Eliza Steinmeier.
Tracking that back upstream for enforcement will lead to cities and counties. A few jurisdictions have already submitted cleanup plans.
Because there is no dirtier water in Maryland than the Harbor, improving it could make improving the Chesapeake Bay a lot more doable.
“By doing that, I think we can lift everybody up and increase their commitment to the bay,” Dennison said.
As a starting point for improvement, scientists will release findings of the harbor’s current environmental status Wednesday.