Maryland and Pennsylvania Legislators Debate Bay Clean Up Efforts, Conowingo Dam

A September 9 Baltimore Sun article reported on a sometimes contentious United States Senate Environment and Public Works Subcommittee on Water and Wildlife hearing where legislators from Maryland, Pennsylvania, and the federal government discussed the recently signed Chesapeake Bay restoration agreement.  The hearing was held on September 8 in Annapolis and presided over by United States Senator and Subcommittee Chair Ben Cardin.

The article stated that Maryland Senator Steve Hershey criticized the Bay agreement and the adopted clean up policies of both the federal government and Maryland, characterizing the policies as an unfunded mandate on local governments.  He also contended that government officials “have chosen to ignore the single largest source of pollution in the Chesapeake Bay watershed: the Susquehanna River and the discharge of nutrient and sediment that flows through the Conowingo Dam.”

The article described Pennsylvania Delegate and Chesapeake Bay Commission Chair Ron Miller’s reply to Hershey’s Conowingo comments:

But Miller countered that the dam, while it can release an added dose of pollution after major storms, actually has helped the bay over the years by trapping sediment and phosphorus behind it.  As for the river, he said it actually contributes a relatively smaller share of the phosphorus pollution that helps trigger algae blooms and dead zones every summer in the estuary.

The article also noted that Cardin agreed with Hershey on the need for increased federal funding:

“The federal government’s portion has not kept up with where it needs to be,” he said.

September 8 Senator Cardin Press Release on the Subcommittee Meeting