Conowingo Work Group To Weigh Options Ahead

Governor Larry Hogan recently held a Conowingo Dam Summit and announced the formation of a multi-agency work group to address the nutrient and sediment run-off coming from the Conowingo Dam reservoir and the Susquehanna River.  As part of the effort, the State will also be issuing a Request for Information for potential solutions. From a Governor’s Office press release (2016-07-07):

The Hogan administration also announced a formal Request for Information to help find solutions, and determine if dredging of the Conowingo Dam and re-use of dredged materials can be done in an efficient and effective way. Speaking at an event on the Susquehanna River, the governor was joined by Maryland Secretary of Natural Resources Mark Belton, Secretary of the Environment Ben Grumbles, Secretary of Planning Wendi Peters, Secretary of Agriculture Joe Bartenfelder, and Acting Director of the Maryland Environmental Service John O’Neill.

“As our administration continues to find ways to safeguard the Chesapeake Bay, we must address the problem of sediment, much of which originates here at the Susquehanna River and the Conowingo Dam,” said Governor Hogan. “By issuing this Request for Information, we are calling for innovative minds to step forward with good ideas, so that we can tackle this problem from all angles, with everything we’ve got.” …

A study finalized earlier this year by the Lower Susquehanna River Watershed Assessment confirmed that the Conowingo Dam reservoir has essentially reached its capacity and is no longer capable of trapping sediment and associated nutrients over the long term—underscoring the urgency of finding practical solutions. The study also found that increased sediments and nutrients flowing over the dam must be addressed to meet Chesapeake Bay restoration goals, as required by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Pennsylvania and New York are also required to meet these stated goals to reduce pollution by 2025.

The implementation of multiple strategies, funded by federal, state, local, and private partners, will be needed to address this issue. Governor Hogan’s newly established work group—composed of representatives from the Maryland Departments of the Environment, Natural Resources, and Planning; the Maryland Port Authority; the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science; the U.S. Geological Survey; the Army Corps of Engineers; the Susquehanna River Basin Commission; and Maryland Environmental Service—will convene and issue a Request for Information seeking detailed ideas on how pollution in the bay can be addressed. The group is also seeking ideas on how dredging of the Conowingo Dam and beneficial re-uses of dredged material can be accomplished in the most economically and technically feasible way possible. The request is expected to be formally issued in September.

Useful Links

Baltimore Sun Article (2016-07-07)

Carroll County Times Article (2016-07-07)

Prior Conduit Street Coverage of Conowingo Dam

Lower Susquehanna River Watershed Assessment Final Report

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