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Healthy Harbor: Swimming and Fishing Dreams Can Come True

December 14, 2011

BALTIMORE - Swimming and fishing in Baltimore Harbor - in less than 10 years?

That's the goal of the "Healthy Harbor" initiative from the Waterfront Partnership of Baltimore. Details will be finalized at a public meeting today on how to clean up the water and waterways leading to the harbor. The goal is for the water to be safe for bathers and anglers by 2020.

Bill Stack, deputy director of programs at the Center for Watershed Protection, helped work on the plan. Although the water is in better shape now than it was 10 years ago, he says, big challenges remain.

"After a storm, you are plagued with trash just everywhere being washed into it, and then, of course, you don't want to dip your hand in the water because of all the sewage that's leaking in."

On the plus side, Stack says, the harbor already is pleasing to the eye. If the water were safe enough to be a play zone, he adds, the economic potential would grow.

"The waterfront is the key attraction that draws tourists - and in Baltimore, it's also drawing people who are now living in condos and homes vacated by industry."

It's obvious that sewage and stormwater structures need to be retrofitted, Stack says, but there's also work to be done at the neighborhood level that involves citizens - such as planting trees and grasses to act as natural water filters. Neighborhood cleanup is also on the to-do list to keep trash contained, he says.

Everyone interested in the project is invited to today's Healthy Harbor meeting, which begins at 10:30 a.m. at the Living Classrooms Foundation, East Harbor Campus, 802 S. Caroline St.

The harbor cleanup plan is online at healthyharborbaltimore.org.

Deb Courson Smith, Public News Service - MD