On September 28. 2019, Abell neighbors scrubbed sidewalks and painted many of the storm drains in the neighborhood.
Stormwater in Abell
These maps show the route that storm water takes from our community to the Jones Falls and Inner Harbor. The circles on the maps show the locations of storm drains and inlets that feed the drains. The red lines and arrows indicate the direction of the runoff water. Abell is right on the dividing line between east and west in the city, so we are sending runoff in both directions.
This map shows our overall watershed.
This graphic from Bluewater Baltimore shows how our stormwater system works.
In 2018, repeated flooding in the middle of the Abell community hit the basements of neighbors and friends. Again. And while the valiant efforts to pull floating garbage bins and the occasional mattress from our storm drains during a flood event is awesome, it’s also dangerous and not a long-term solution to the flooding problems we are experiencing more and more frequently. While we can contribute in small ways to reducing our own contribution to the climate changes that has seen 100-year floods rip through nearby Ellicott City twice in 2016 and 2018 and our individual property taxes contributed to improvements to the Baltimore’s water piping systems in 2017, we can also take some immediate and effective actions to help move increasing rainfall into the stormwater sewer system and out to the Inner Harbor.
The Abell community sits on a rise between the Jones Falls and Herring Run watersheds, meaning the that rain running off our streets flows both east and west before reaching the river systems that transport the water to the Inner Harbor before reaching the Chesapeake Bay. Due to the high amount of trash entering the rivers feeding into the Inner Harbor, the water was covered in floating trash making its way to the ocean. To remove the eyesore of floating trash and promote development around the Inner Harbor, Baltimore and Healthy Harbors installed Mr. Trash Wheel at the Jones Falls outfall in 2014. Due to the success of removing floating debris from the Inner Harbor, additional trash wheels were installed in 2016 at the Harris Creek outfall and 2018 in the Masonville Cove outfall. Since installation, the trash wheels have collected over 1,200 tons of trash.
While this is good news for the Inner Harbor, the long-term solution is stopping trash at its source: our communities. There is still a tremendous strain on our stormwater sewer network moving rain from our neighborhoods to the open water in the form of plastic bags, cigarette butts, foam cups, grease, and motor oil all enter the system from street runoff and can form clogs in the network that end up in flooding, breaks and system repairs. We can take action to help our stormwater system and our community by preventing trash accumulation at its source.
Storm drain art began in Sao Paolo Brazil with street artists Anderson Augusto and Leonardo Delafuente. In 2010, Sarah Tooley and 901 Arts brought storm drain muraling to Baltimore to raise awareness of the impact city trash is having on our harbor and beyond. Since inception, over 500 storm drains around Baltimore have received make overs, letting the community know about both their local storm drains and the connection of the inlet to the outlet in the Inner Harbor.
In 2019, the Abell Improvement Association is joining this effort, with support from Bluewater Baltimore and the Charles Village Foundation, and adopting fifteen of our 32 storm drains for murals and stenciling to bring attention to the movement of water through our community and into our local watershed. While there are many issues contributing to flooding and trash in our world, the Abell Stormdrain Art Project (ASAP!) is one small contribution towards a better future for our community, Baltimore, the Chesapeake Bay and maybe even the world…