BALTIMORE (WJZ) — A group of people, who onlookers say are from Chicago, can be seen jumping into the Inner Harbor in a video that has surfaced on YouTube.
Those filming the incident can be heard saying things like “Ew!” and “They’re from Chicago, they don’t know no better.”
Probably because locals know the harbor is notoriously dirty.
Environmental experts say it has dangerously high levels of bacteria.
In fact, the latest Waterfront Partnership of Baltimore’s Healthy Harbor Initiative report card gave it an F, partially due to the levels of fecal matter in the water.
And, the tourists took their dip in the same area where a dead body was found earlier this month.
In addition to those who filmed the harbor swim, some people who spoke with WJZ’s Meghan McCorkell about the video on Monday also had concerns about the welfare of the tourists.
“Oh my god. Are they sick this week?” one woman asked upon seeing the footage.
“You can look at that water and you can tell it’s not safe,” another woman said incredulously.
“Mostly there’s raw human sewage in the harbor,” says Alice Volpitta, with Blue Water Baltimore. “People can get hepatitis, they can get something called gastroenteritis, which is like food poisoning, but the worst case of food poisoning you’ve ever had. There’s all sorts of diseases and viruses carried in sewage.”
Though the partnership does have a goal of turning the harbor into a swimmable and fishable area by 2020, the report shows there is still much work to be done.
Part of that effort is the Inner Harbor Trash Wheel, which has pulled more than 440 tons of garbage out of the water since it was installed in 2014, but there’s still the leaky sewage issue.
“Our sewer system is over 100 years old,” Volpitta says. “It dates back to 1904.”
That has locals steering clear, and wrinkling their noses at the video.
“You couldn’t pay me enough to jump in that water,” one man told WJZ.
You can see the full video, which contains some language that viewers may find offensive, below: