Water Quality in Baltimore, Maryland
Watershed: Jones Falls
What is the water quality like in Baltimore, MD?
Let’s dive deeper into what’s in Baltimore water.
What’s in Baltimore water?
Here are the top 4 chemical compounds in your water and what health issues they can potentially cause:
- Haloacetic acids – Potential effect: Cancer
- Nitrate – Potential effect: Cancer
- Nitrate and nitrite – Potential effect: Cancer
- Total trihalomethanes – Potential effect: Cancer
These are four of the 18 contaminants analyzed by the Environmental Working Group (ewg.org).
These 4 contaminants are rated as exceeding EWG Health Guidelines.
See the What Can You Do? section below for all of the contaminants you can filter out and how to do it.
Where does Baltimore’s water come from?
Baltimore’s water comes from the Jones Falls watershed.
12 of the 14 EPA assessed water sources in the Jones Falls watershed are in Impaired or Unknown condition. These include:
- Dipping Pond Run
- Jones Falls – 2 segments
- Lake Roland
- Lower Jones Falls
- Middle Jones Falls
- North Branch Jones Falls
- Slaughterhouse Branch
- Stony Run
- Western Run
Ideally, a water source would be rated in Good condition.
Whether a water source is in Impaired or Good condition refers to the quality of these uses:
- Drinking Water
- Aquatic Life
- Fish and Shellfish Consumption
Learn more from How’s My Waterway
See below for what you can do to improve Baltimore’s water.
Conclusion – What Can You Do?
Information about water quality can be surprising.
But there’s no reason to lose hope. There are things you can do in your household as well as things you can do at a community level.
In Your Household:
- Use Berkey filters with activated carbon to filter out 13 of the 18 contaminants in your drinking water.
- Berkey filters can also remove up to 99.99% of Lead in Baltimore water.
- Brita can filter 9 contaminants (and Lead depending on the filter).
- Note: We may receive a commission if you decide to purchase filters through links on this page.
- To filter out 16 of the 18 contaminants, consider a Reverse Osmosis water filtration system for your house.
- These are more expensive than pitchers to purchase, but can be more effective.
- They have the benefit of filtering out heavy hitters like:
- Atrazine – herbicide. Potential harm to the developing fetus.
- Barium – In low doses, barium ions act as a muscle stimulant, and higher doses affect the nervous system, causing cardiac irregularities, tremors, weakness, anxiety, shortness of breath, and paralysis.
- Chlordane – pesticide
- Chloroform – side effects
- Chromium (total)
- Haloacetic acids – chlorination byproduct*
- Hexavalent chromium – health effects
- Simazine – herbicide (banned in European Union states)
- Total trihalomethanes – byproduct of chlorination*
- Toxaphene – insecticide banned in the United States in 1990. Banned globally by the 2001 Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants. High levels can cause damage to the lungs, nervous system, liver, and kidneys. [Source]
*Chlorination is an effective method of disinfecting/treating drinking water. You can then use a water filter to reduce the effects of chlorination byproducts to get the safest, cleanest water possible.
In Your Community:
Contact your local government officials and put pressure on them to invest in cleaner waterways and upgraded city water filtration and treatment.
Go to: https://www.baltimorecity.gov/ to find contact information for your local officials.