Clean Chesapeake Coalition Talks Conowingo, Oyster Shell Dredging at #MACoCon

The Clean Chesapeake Coalition held a meeting at the MACo 2019 January Winter Conference to outline its annual workplan and hear about important issues related to Chesapeake Bay restoration efforts. The Coalition met on Wednesday, January 2.

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 Dam, which is owned by energy company Exelon. Kent County Commissioner Ronald Fithian is the chair of the Coalition.

Maryland Secretary of the Environment Ben Grumbles discussed the status of: (1) the State’s water quality certification of the Conowingo Dam; (2) the Conowingo’s Watershed Implementation Plan; and (3) the dredge spoil reuse pilot program. Grumbles noted that Maryland was waiting to see if any “curveballs” were coming through are coming through the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) or Congress.

Coalition staff Charles “Chip” MacLeod outlined the Coalition’s scope of work for 2019. MacLeod noted that the Coalition and the Delmarva Fisheries Association will jointly host a Chesapeake Environmental and Economic Summit on January 15 in the Miller Senate Office Building in Annapolis.

MacLeod offered an update on Exelon’s court challenges to Maryland’s water quality certification requirements. MacLeod noted that Exelon’s state court appeal was thrown out because Exelon had not exhausted its administrative remedies and expected a similar outcome for Exelon’s federal court appeal. MacLeod also discussed the Coalition’s plan to get a state permit to allow the dredging of natural oyster shell from one part of the Bay and transporting the shell to another part of the Bay in order to create a favorable habitat for oyster spat.

The Coalition also plans to transition from an informal association to a formal tax-exempt nonprofit.