Several news articles reported on Maryland Governor Larry Hogan’s recent efforts to hold upstream states more accountable for the debris and runoff that flows down the Susquehanna River and through the Conowingo Dam. As previously reported on Conduit Street, the recent heavy rainfalls created a deluge of debris and sediment that washed into the Chesapeake Bay, threatening Bay recovery efforts.
Hogan called for the upstream Bay states to do more at the August 7, 2018, meeting of the Chesapeake Executive Council. (The Council is composed of the executives of all of the Bay watershed states and Hogan is currently the Council’s chair.) Hogan has also continued to push the Conowingo Dam’s owner, Exelon Corp., to also do more to address sediment coming through the dam.
A WTOP 103.5 FM article (2018-08-07) outlined Hogan’s position:
Hogan has been increasingly critical of Maryland’s neighbors to the north over the condition of the Bay watershed. …“We have done our part,” [Hogan] said, referring to Maryland’s efforts, “but other people need to step up.”
“We have to have the upstream states and the EPA take some responsibility for the stuff that’s pouring down the Susquehanna [River] over the Conowingo [Dam] into the Bay,” he said.
The WTOP article also detailed Hogan’s recent efforts to have Exelon contribute more to Bay restoration efforts. Maryland must provide a certification before Exelon can be re-licensed to continue operating the dam and Hogan has tied the recertification to Exelon’s commitment to help address the water quality issues that are. Exelon has challenged the State’s certification requirements both administratively and in the courts.
The Clean Chesapeake Coalition, an advocacy effort of Maryland counties formed to address Bay Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) issues in 2012, was one of the early stakeholder groups that raised concerns about sediment and water pollution coming down the Susquehanna River and through the Conowingo Dam.
A Washington Post article (2018-08-07) provided additional details, including the somewhat lukewarm response from other states to Hogan’s proposal:
New York’s representative at the meeting, Deputy Commissioner James Tierney of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, said water leaving the state’s borders is cleaner than when it reaches the bay.
Pennsylvania’s environmental secretary, Patrick McDonnell, declined to commit resources to cleaning up the debris, saying his government has been dealing with historic flooding that killed two people in the state.
“We were, frankly, in flood response mode,” McDonnell said.
The Post article also included criticism from the Chesapeake Bay Foundation on the efforts of Pennsylvania to address agricultural runoff. Pennsylvania has previously been criticized by the United States Environmental Protection Agency for being “significantly off track” in meetings its water quality goals under the Bay TMDL.