BALTIMORE (WJZ) — As environmental activists fight for an Inner Harbor clean enough to swim in one day, they’re taking aim at problems upstream.

Volunteers took on neglected tree pits on a Milton-Monford block Saturday to dig into a problem that lies in Baltimore’s waterways.

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“We were trying to figure out a way to sort of beautify the block and also provide conservation landscaping that will help reduce stormwater runoff and look great,” said Leanna Wetmore of Healthy Harbor.

Wetmore said litter and runoff from Baltimore neighborhoods end up dumped in the Inner Harbor.

On Thursday, a plume of brown sediment from a storm drain leaked into the harbor.

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The incident made for a major pollution event that brought hazmat crews to the water and sparked an investigation.

“We first got a report on our pollution hotline on Tuesday late afternoon, and then we started to get more pollution reports today,” said Barbara Johnson with Water Quality Scientist.

In east Baltimore, it’s projects like this that not only beautify a neighborhood, but keep pollution out of Maryland’s waterways.

“All of the storm water runoff and trash goes right into the storm drains with no filter into the harbor,” Wetmore said.

Volunteers finished their beautification with a block party and barbeque for the neighborhood.

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