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Baltimore City testing screens on storm drains to keep waterways clean

Apr 12, 2016

By Lowell Melser  | View the Video Broadcast Here!

BALTIMORE —Crews installed new storm-drain covers Friday in an effort to keep trash from polluting Baltimore's waterways.

It's a common sight after a storm in Baltimore when tons of trash wind up in the city's storm drains and flow on into the Inner Harbor. While the city already has a trash wheel to help collect trash from the water, it has come up with a way to battle trash at the source.

As part of a pilot program, the city Department of Public Works is installing screens on a number of storm drains across the city, all in hopes to keep trash out of the harbor and the Chesapeake Bay.

"What we don't want to have happen is for those inlets to be used as trash cans," DPW spokesman Jeff Raymond said.

As part of a pilot program, DPW crews will install pollution control devices on storm drains in five neighborhoods over the next week.

The system is two-fold: First, a screen is installed in the front of a drain, and second, a collection basket of sorts is placed inside in case anything gets through.

"Where the storm water runs off into the inlet, this way, it goes through a filter cloth and holds debris and trash from going into the storm water line," said Fred Petrella, a city inspector.

Street sweepers will travel the roads weekly to pick up debris that collects on the screen, and the baskets will be emptied on a monthly basis.

During the pilot program, 414 inlet screens will be installed at a cost of about $574,000.

"We're really looking forward to seeing how these work, to the extent that we do find them to be effective, we can look for other places to install them," Raymond said.

DPW officials said all of the screens in the pilot program will be installed on the various drains by April 15, and if they prove effective, more could be installed.

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