Consent Decree Program

Consent Decree Program

On September 30, 2002, the City entered into a Consent Decree (CD) with the United States and the State of Maryland. This obligated the City to fund a comprehensive wastewater collection system evaluation and rehabilitation program.

Achievements from that CD include:

  • Conducting a comprehensive study of the system to identify the condition of the system and the areas needing to be addressed first.
  • Preparing a comprehensive plan to fix the system.
  • Closing 60 of 62 known engineered overflows that diverted sewer water into the stormwater drainage system in times of surcharge due to wet weather.
  • Completed work on 11 sewer main construction projects.
  • Another 11 projects in design/advertisement stage; 12 others in construction/award phase.
  • Discovered and designed a solution to a hydraulic flaw at the Back River Wastewater Treatment Plant that creates a sewage backup and leads to sewer overflows.

Modified Consent Decree

On June 1, 2016, a modified Consent Decree was filed with the United States District Court for the District of Maryland by the U.S. Department of Justice, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and the Maryland Department of the Environment. The modified CD lays out a framework for completing the necessary work, as well as a long-term proactive maintenance program. A 60-day comment period on the CD opened on June 7 and runs through Aug. 6, 2016.

The agreement is composed of two phases, with the priority given to projects providing the greatest environmental benefit in the early years.

Phase I highlights include:

  • Thirty-four individual projects that will complete the necessary fixing and cleaning of our sewer mains. Of these, 11 projects are already completed and another 12 are currently under construction or being awarded. Another 11 of these projects are currently being designed or advertised.
  • The Back River Headworks project, which by itself will reduce more than 80 percent of the sewer overflow volume in Baltimore. The project will correct a 10-mile sewage backup created by the displacement of a huge sewer main leading into the wastewater treatment plant. This problem had not been diagnosed when the original consent decree was entered in 2002.
  • A completion date for the Phase I projects of January 1, 2021.

Phase II highlights include:

  • Increasing the capacity of the system based on the recommendations from the best possible engineering and technology, and modeling based on 20 years of rainfall data.
  • This analysis, and the work that follows, will ensure that the system can handle the real conditions that it will face.
  • The Phase II plan must be approved by MDE and EPA.
  • The final construction deadline for Phase II is 2030.

Other resources

There are a number of ways to learn about the modified CD. The best way may be to view the document in its entirety.

You may also view presentations from a joint public meeting regarding the CD by the United States Environmental Protection Agency and by the Baltimore City Department of Public Works.

You may also view the press releases issued by each agency.

Finally, you may offer comments on the plan through Aug. 6, 2016, by emailing [email protected]