sewage illo

Illustration by Alex Fine. (August 15, 2014)

Just before 4 p.m. on Friday, Baltimore Department of Public Works (DPW) helpfully reported that Tuesday's rain had caused more than 3 million gallons of untreated sewage to spill into the Patapsco River. 

Three million gallons.

The total sewage spilled by all sources in Baltimore City for all of 2013, according to this handy running compilation: 881,136.5 gallons.

Now all of these are estimates, so weigh them as you will. But it is worth noting that the DPW's initial report of the big spill on Tuesday—the one they are now saying alone exceeded 3 million gallons—was that it "was believed to exceed 10,000 gallons."

Another overflow spilled more than 23,000 gallons into the Jones Falls. Meanwhile, "a pumping station at Patapsco Avenue and Shell Road, was identified late that evening and was stopped in the early morning hours of Thursday, Aug. 14. That incident resulted in approximately 170,300 gallons being spilled" into the Patapsco River, DPW says.

The main overflow, from the Patapsco Wastewater Treatment Plant, began at 2:30 p.m. and was stopped at 7:25 p.m., DPW says.

So, in five hours' time, that plant spilled 3 million gallons—or 600,000 gallons per hour.

In one hour on Tuesday, that one plant spilled three-quarters as much sewage into the Patapsco as the whole city spilled everywhere in 2013.