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Water Quality

The Maryland Port Administration (MPA) is committed to improving water quality in the Chesapeake Bay and its rivers.

Teachers learn about field experiences for students at the Hart-Miller Island dredged material placement site.
Stormwater management at the Dundalk Marine Terminal helps to protect water quality in the Patapsco River and Chesapeake Bay.

The MPA’s goal is to meet or exceed the standards of state and federal water quality regulations. These requirements address a wide range of issues, including sediment, nutrients, chemicals, oil, and stormwater runoff. As the MPA’s Water Quality Master Plan details, the agency and its partners are using best management practices and stormwater management structures to meet the federal nutrient reduction requirements for the Chesapeake Bay, known as the Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL).

To help meet those requirements, the MPA looks for and supports innovative technologies. Recent examples are the "floating wetlands" at Masonville Cove and the algal scrubber at the Cox Creek dredged material placement site, which uses controlled algae growth to remove nutrients from the Patapsco River.

State regulations require the MPA to minimize the adverse impacts of a redevelopment or construction project by managing and treating stormwater. Stormwater treatment programs implemented to offset new development include tree planting and the School Yard Greening Program.

The MPA has taken major steps to reduce water-borne trash by improving recycling programs, conducting regular street sweeping, and installing storm drain trash collectors and trash compactors (powered by solar energy) on its marine terminals. MPA provided substantial financial support for the Baltimore Inner Harbor Water Wheel, which removes litter and debris flowing down the Jones Falls toward the harbor.

Dredging, which removes sediment from shipping channels, can also disturb pollutants present in the sediment. When sediment is dredged from areas affected by past industrial pollution, the dredged material is placed behind dikes to prevent it from mixing with open waters. Spillways, which release excess water from the placement site, are carefully monitored to ensure the discharged water meets both health and environmental standards.