Water Blog

News, notes and thoughts from Blue Water Baltimore.

Blue Water Baltimore Challenges Stormwater Pollution Permit

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Baltimore Harbor Waterkeeper, David Flores, joined attorneys from Earthjustice, Khushi Desai and Jennifer Chavez, at the Baltimore City Circuit Court on September 8, to present oral argument that legally challenged the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) to improve the permit that governs Baltimore City’s urban storm sewer system.

The argument, presented by Earthjustice before the circuit court judge, demonstrated that MDE failed to meet federal Clean Water Act and State legal requirements by issuing a permit that is unenforceable and ineffective.

Baltimore Harbor Waterkeeper, David Flores, joined attorneys from Earthjustice, Khushi Desai and Jennifer Chavez, at the Baltimore City Circuit Courthouse.
Baltimore Harbor Waterkeeper David Flores, alongside Earthjustice attorneys, Jennifer Chavez and Khushi Desai, at the Baltimore Courthouse.

The argument focused on four main issues:

  • MDE’s refusal to impose enforceable limits in the permits
  • Lack of public participation process in setting deadlines
  • Inadequate monitoring and absence of compliance timetables
  • Inadequate requirements for the elimination of non-stormwater pollution discharges

“Some of our neighborhood streams and rivers pose a threat to public health and safety, because the City’s stormwater system continuously discharges raw sewage, toxic metals, and other hazardous pollution to these waterways,” said Baltimore Harbor Waterkeeper, David Flores.

David added, “There are effective ways to control the source of this pollution, and MDE has the authority and know-how to implement them. We urge MDE to take this opportunity by putting forth meaningful protections instead of allowing the pollution of our cherished waters to continue indefinitely.”

Earthjustice, a non-profit public interest environmental law firm, argued before the Circuit Court on behalf of lead plaintiff Blue Water Baltimore and co-plaintiffs Sierra Club, Natural Resources Defense Council, and Waterkeepers Chesapeake.

The Baltimore City Circuit Court hearing is the second of three separate challenges to MDE’s permitting program for urban stormwater runoff.