Maryland Governor Larry Hogan has announced a comprehensive agreement between the Department of the Environment (MDE) and Exelon Generation Company, LLC, which requires Exelon to invest more than $200 million in environmental projects and operational enhancements to improve water quality in the Lower Susquehanna River and the Chesapeake Bay.
Commenting the latest news, Governor Hogan said: “Our administration has committed an historic $5 billion toward wide-ranging bay initiatives and taken bold and aggressive steps to address the challenges posed by pollution, sediment, and debris at the Conowingo Dam. This settlement is a significant and positive step in the right direction, and with the cooperation of Exelon and upstream states, we can continue making progress in our efforts to preserve and protect this great national treasure.”
Under the agreement, Exelon will make a total investment of more than $200 million, including nearly $107 million in cash payments to support some of these environmental initiatives:
- $52 million to implement new requirements for flow control that will create more natural conditions in the Lower Susquehanna River, resulting in enhancements to aquatic life and the downstream ecosystem, and better upstream migratory fish passage;
- $500,000 to fund a study of dredged material management options;
- $41 million to significantly increase efforts to remove trash and debris flowing down the Susquehanna River;
- $19 million for other projects to improve water quality in the Chesapeake Bay, including agricultural projects such as cover crops and forest buffers, etc.
The settlement builds on commitments Exelon has previously made to improve environmental and recreational conditions at and around the dam.
In 2016, Exelon entered into a settlement agreement with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to implement critical improvements to the fish passage facilities at the dam, which Exelon estimates will require investments exceeding $300 million.
“Exelon also estimates that it will invest more than $120 million to make enhancements to recreational sites, including dredging of Broad Creek, Conowingo Creek, Peters Creek, and Glen Cove Marina,” according to Hogan’s release.
Scientific reports confirm that the Conowingo Dam has reached full capacity and can no longer stop pollution from entering the bay, which severely threatens the state’s and region’s ability to meet Chesapeake Bay cleanup goals.
The Hogan administration’s holistic strategy includes conditions relating to the proposed relicensing of the dam, a pilot project on beneficial reuse of dredged material, and an unprecedented, multi-state Watershed Implementation Plan specifically for the effects of upstream discharges and the lost trapping capacity of the Conowingo Dam on Chesapeake Bay restoration.