The Clean Chesapeake Coalition premiered a new film on the Conowingo Dam and the health of the Chesapeake Bay at the 2018 MACo Summer Conference on August 16, 2018. The screening of “The Conowingo Factor” attracted a standing-room-only audience that included elected officials, cabinet secretaries, and environmental advocates.
The Coalition was formed in 2012 to address Chesapeake Bay Total Maximum Daily Load water quality issues and currently has six counties as members: Caroline, Carroll, Cecil, Dorchester, Kent, and Queen Anne’s. The Coalition was one of the first advocacy groups to raise the water quality issues posed by the Conowingo. Kent County Commissioner Ronald Fithian is the chair of the Coalition.
The 13-minute “Conowingo Factor” summarized the dam’s history and the water quality issues posed by both the dam and sediment and debris coming down the Susquehanna River. The film also outlined Maryland’s efforts to have the dam’s owner, Exelon, mitigate the pollution coming through the dam and the current legal and administrative challenges Exelon is pursuing against Maryland.
Coalition members are continuing to urge the Administration of Governor Larry Hogan to hold Exelon accountable. MACo’s longstanding position on the Conowingo Dam is that the excess nutrient and sediment pollution originating from the dam’s reservoir must be addressed. That burden should not fall on Maryland’s counties, which did not generate the pollution coming through the dam. Exelon, as the dam’s owner and beneficiary of the profits generated by the dam, should play a role in addressing the dam’s water pollution situation. Bay watershed states that generate the pollution flowing down the Susquehanna and into dam’s reservoir should also work to reduce their nutrient and sediment runoff.