Almost four years ago, the sewers of Baltimore erupted in a scandal.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Maryland Department of the Environment had sued the city to force it to fix its leaky and overwhelmed sewer system and stop discharging raw waste into the Inner Harbor and urban streams.
The Baltimore Department of Public Works more than tripled water and sewer rates, but mismanaged the sewer system upgrade project. City workers shut down sewage outfall pipes before it increased the capacity of the system. This caused raw waste to erupt into the basements of hundreds of homes.
Natasza Bock-Singleton, a community leader and mother of three from southwest Baltimore, described what these sewage floods are like during a public hearing on the problem Monday at the Maryland Department of the Environment. She said her home suffered more than $25,000 in damage from three sewage floods.
“It’s a geyser of human waste,” said Bock-Singleton. “And just to clarify – it doesn't happen when it starts to rain. There is a little bit of a lull. You have a rain storm, and you think you might have a problem, so you go in your basement and you wait and you watch (the toilet) and you put everything else on hold. And there is a little gurgle, so you call 311, and just as the rain stops, and the sun comes out, and the birds chirp, and rainbows come, then the geyser of human waste comes up.”