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More Floating Wetlands Going Into Polluted Inner Harbor

BALTIMORE (WJZ)—Baltimore's Inner Harbor has some of Maryland's most polluted water. Ongoing efforts to clean it will cost millions.

Alex DeMetrick reports pointing out what's been lost might help find a way forward.

When things get really bad in the Inner Harbor, there's no missing it: dead fish, killed by dead water. The oxygen is choked out of it by the mahogany tides of algae blooms.

There is a cure in the grasses found in marshes and wetlands.

"These wetlands actually feed and grow on the pollution that comes into the harbor. So they're a way of removing stormwater pollution from the waterway," said Adam Lindquist, Healthy Harbor Initiative.

The problem is the Inner Harbor no longer has wetlands to act as a filter between land and water. It's all been paved over.

So for the past few years, the Healthy Harbor Initiative has been building and planting small islands of grass to float in the harbor.

These are being readied to replace the ones that didn't make it through winter. And they do support life.

"In these floating islands you'll see crabs. You'll see eels. You'll see blue heron. Ducks love them," Lindquist said.

No one expects floating islands will clean the harbor. It's more of an education campaign about the pollution upstream--the kind you can see every time it rains, and the nutrient pollution you can't see from sewage, air pollution and fertilizer that washes off hard surfaces and feeds algae blooms.

The floating wetlands point out what could thrive if that source is reduced.

"To really help support the Healthy Harbor Initiative is something that all of Baltimore can appreciate going forward," said Shannon Landwehr, Morgan Stanley Volunteers.

The Healthy Harbor Initiative believes the harbor can become safe enough to swim in if infrastructure projects to reduce stormwater runoff go forward.

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