BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Volunteers were hard at work Thursday morning planting two gardens in Canton they hope will help clean up the Inner Harbor.

The gardens bring a certain beauty to the area, but the new plants are more than something to look at.

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“You plant all these plants, every time you drive by you can be reminded of what you gave back to the community and really making a difference,” volunteer Laura Tomney said.

Tomney and 40 other volunteers spent the morning planting 860 native plants in two rain gardens by Harris Creek Outfall in Canton.

“Today was great,” volunteer Seth Unterschute said. “It was a beautiful day. We got to make some contributions to the community.”

That contribution is made possible by the Waterfront Partnership’s Healthy Harbor Initiative and is helping keep the harbor clean.

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Streets and sidewalks are covered in pollutants, and now when it rains, water washes those pollutants through the drain and into the rain garden where it’s slowly filtered into the ground. The garden will prevent those pollutants from entering the harbor.

“When polluted runoff comes into the Baltimore harbor, it can create algae blooms, which can cause dead zones and fish kill, it’s not a great situation,” said Adam Lindquist, the director of the Healthy Harbor Initiative.

Lindquist said the plants will actually feed on the pollutants.

“Most people don’t realize it’s something that looks nice and I think that’s what it is on the surface, and there’s so much more to it,” Tomney said.

Funding for the project came from a city stormwater fee via a nearly $100,000 grant from the Chesapeake Bay Trust.

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The Waterfront Partnership said it hopes efforts like the rain gardens will one day make the harbor safe for swimming.

Sean Streicher