A Baltimore Sun article (2017-08-08) reported that Maryland Governor Lawrence “Larry” Hogan announced plans for a dredging test project for the Conowingo Dam and has requested bids from private companies. The test project is expected to be completed this winter and would determine whether further dredging would be cost effective. The article said that Maryland would pay for the project. According to the article, there is an estimated 31 million cubic yards of sediment behind the dam and dredging would cost $3 billion based on a United States Army Corps of Engineers analysis. Maryland Environmental Service CEO Roy McGrath indicated the bid requests are based on 25,000 cubic yards of dredging. From the article:
The area behind the dam has filled up with sediment and is unable to trap more. Hogan said he worries that one big storm could wipe out recent improvements in the Chesapeake Bay’s health.
“It is absolutely vital that we find real solutions for the problem,” Hogan said at a news conference on the banks of the Susquehanna, in front of the dam.
The article also noted mixed reactions from environmental groups, with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) noting that dredging only addresses sediment pollution and not nitrogen pollution. CBF Executive Director Alison Prost argued that eliminating the sources of pollution was more cost-effective than dredging the dam. However, Chesapeake Bay Commission Executive Director Ann Swanson noted the test project could provide useful data on addressing the Susquehanna River and Conowingo Dam situation.
A Washington Post article (2017-08-08) noted that the test project would cost Maryland about $4 million and that the State would seek to split any future dredging costs with other stakeholders:
Benjamin H. Grumbles, the state’s secretary of the environment, said the test project would cost the state about $4 million. The state will issue a request for proposals Aug. 31 and award a contract this fall, with the dredge operation starting before spring. …
Grumbles said that the state will pay for the test project but that the administration plans to discuss cost-sharing options with other states, the federal government and private partners for a potential larger-scale operation in the future.