Hi, guys! Yesterday, Ashley, Pam, and I had the opportunity to participate in Baltimore’s first annual Floatilla. It sounds like a Godzilla movie, but it was actually a rally for clean water and for Baltimore City to fix the sewage pipes to stop raw sewage pollution in our streams and Inner Harbor.
But this wasn’t any ordinary rally in front of City Hall. We kayaked in the Inner Harbor to raise awareness and all gathered in our boats in front of the Maryland Science Center to show off our signs and chant phrases like “Fix the Pipes.” We kayaked as part of a group representing Baltimore Rec & Parks (they provided the boats and gear) and launched from the Tide Point water taxi location, up the street from Fort McHenry and right next to the Under Armour building. It was an early wake-up call for Andrea (she got her coffee, though, so it worked out) but totally worth it!
Because we were part of a group, we didn’t kayak as far as the regular participants who brought their own boats and paddled from Canton Waterfront Park, but we still got in our fair share of mileage — about 2.7 miles roundtrip from Tide Point to the Science Center and back. When we got to the science center, there were about 50 other kayakers (plus our 100 or so) all gathered up near the shore, with more coming in! We also got a special visit from Mr. Trash Wheel, an innovative machine installed by Blue Water Baltimore at the mouth of the Jones Falls in Harbor East that collects trash flowing down the river before it hits the harbor. Mr. Trash Wheel was looking mighty fancy, with his solar-panel-covered back (the solar panels power the water wheel, which moves the conveyor belt lifting the trash up to be processed) and googly eyes on his front. In 2015 alone, Mr. Trash Wheel collected 238.8 tons of trash, including 2.86 million cigarette butts and 98,940 plastic bags! WOW!!
After a bit of organizing our boats around (we kept drifting due to the water currents), some speakers from Blue Water Baltimore, Waterfront Partnership, and the Chesapeake Bay Foundation came and delivered some motivational speeches as part of our rally. After that, we headed back to Tide Point.
But the party wasn’t over yet! After landing in Tide Point, we took the water taxi over to Canton Waterfront Park for the afterparty, complete with free chicken from Nando’s Peri-Peri and two free scoops from Taharka Bros. ice cream. We also got an awesome athletic T-shirt that says “Baltimore Floatilla” and got to listen to a great jazz band.
Overall, it was a wonderful day, and I’m looking forward to participating in next year’s Floatilla. A great way for advocacy for clean water in Baltimore! Baltimore City just went through a new consent degree (basically a legal settlement after a lawsuit) with the federal Environmental Protection Agency to reach an agreement about new deadlines for fixing our old sewer pipes. We had original deadlines that expired this past January 2016, but although we made some progress, we were nowhere near to reaching them. Hopefully, this new consent degree can be fulfilled — the first part, involving fixing and closing off pipes that purposefully release overflow sewage into the Jones Falls during rainstorms, has a mandated completion year of 2020. If you’re interested, you can read the consent degree and submit comments HERE.
Thanks, guys! We are continuing in the office over the summer and looking forward to more blogging. 🙂