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Floating Wetland Project To Improve Water Quality At Inner Harbor

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(Credit: EDSA)

(Credit: EDSA)

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Alex DeMetrick has been a general assignment reporter with WJZ...
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BALTIMORE (WJZ)– Baltimore’s Inner Harbor is ringed with concrete, and that’s help make for poor water quality.

Alex DeMetrick reports now developers want to try something different, scaling up a small experiment into a floating green zone.

Two years ago, a modest experiment went into the Inner Harbor–little islands of floating vegetation, the kind found in wetlands.

“It’s a demonstration. We want to see how they work, what effect they have,” said Laurie Schwartz, Waterfront Partnership.

“Unfortunately, it’s too small a project to really evaluate the benefits of it,” said Dr. Steven Berlin, Baltimore Marine Center.

So the Baltimore Marine Center is thinking big, proposing to take an acre and a half of water zoned for 80 additional boat slips, and turning it into a much larger floating wetland to help clean the water.

“It is estimated that somewhere between 70,000 and 80,000 pounds of debris or pollutants in the water will be eaten by the plant life that we would put in here,” Berlin said.

It’s no secret the harbor needs all the help it can get. Every time it rains, what’s on the land washes into the water.

Trash is the most obvious pollutant, but nutrients like nitrogen feed algae blooms.

This past summer those blooms killed fish in the harbor, and even turned it a tropical turquoise color.

“It all ties back to the fact that there’s basically a dead zone in the harbor. There’s no oxygen in the water for the fish and the other animals,” said Tina Meyers, Blue Water Baltimore.

While the proposed floating wetland is designed to breathe new life into the water, proponents also see other benefits.

“Not only improve the water, establish a significant tourist attraction,” Berlin said. “And even more than that, develop an educational area” by bringing a bit of the wild back to Baltimore.

The floating wetland project still needs a variety of permits and $6 million to build.

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