Inner Harbor Mystery Leak Identified

Photo: Baltimore City Fire Dept.

The Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) has identified the mystery plume that appeared in the Inner Harbor last week, right where the USS Constellation is docked.

According to MDE, the discoloration was sediment from a construction project on Howard Street that flowed south into the Harbor.

” The source appears to have been a drainage improvement project at the Howard Street tunnel. We directed that the discharge of sediment into the storm drain system that eventually leads to the Inner Harbor be stopped,” said Jay Apperson, MDE Deputy Director of Communications.

MDE says the project’s contractor took steps to treat the sediment-laden water before it was discharged, and the plume had dissipated a day later.

Blue Water Baltimore, the waterkeepers’ organization for the tributaries that feed the Inner Harbor, points out that this type of discharge is “illegal, and a huge source of pollution in waterways.”

MDE is still reviewing whether the contractor could face any financial penalty for the discharge.

The mysterious substance gathered attention on social media after it caused a mucky-looking plume at the center of the Inner Harbor’s bustling waterfront, right along the red brick Promenade. The Baltimore City Fire Department initially responded to it, and reported, “Preliminary tests showed no hazard or threat to anyone walking the Pavilion.”

Blue Water Baltimore reminds anyone who sees an unidentifiable substance like this one in the water, to report it using their online form or by calling the pollution reporting hotline. Click here for more information.

-Meg Walburn Viviano