Stanley Kemp, assistant professor who specializes in environmental studies, works on a project assessing water quality in the Jones Falls just north of campus.
The Jones Falls is one of a few waterways in the heart of Baltimore. Here's why those waterways are so important:
Follow our timeline to learn more about the importance of the Jones Falls through Baltimore's history.
Even before the founding of Baltimore, settlements that gave rise to the city (there was one called Jones' Town) centered around the mouth of the Jones Falls. Early depictions of the city show fishermen purse seining the Inner Harbor nearby. The Jones Falls would also have been a source of fresh water.
Baltimore made great improvements to the condition of the Jones Falls remaining above ground. The industrial pollution that came from streamside mills, tanneries and coal yards gradually abated, resulting in less toxic material entering the waterway.
The environmental movement of the 1970s gave rise to landmark legislation, such as the Clean Water Act, that mandated and enforced the maintenance of water quality above certain standards. This resulted in a great improvement in water quality in the Jones Falls and many other waterways.
There are many reasons to be positive about the future health of the Jones Falls. It harbors a surprisingly diverse array of fish and invertebrates and is also home to ducks, wading birds and other wildlife (though none are particularly sensitive to pollution). Many important water quality traits are in decent shape, and toxic pollution is normally low.
The work of dedicated organizations, such as the Jones Falls Watershed Association, the Friends of Stony Run and the newly organized Blue Water Baltimore, has greatly increased oversight and restoration of the Jones Falls and the Inner Harbor. In some parts of the Lower Jones Falls, public access has been facilitated via the Jones Falls Trail.