Governor Larry Hogan yesterday held Maryland’s first Conowingo Dam Summit, and announced the formation of a multi-agency work group to seek innovative solutions for reducing pollution that threatens the Chesapeake Bay.
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.
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.