Wednesday 12 December 2018

Conowingo Dam (12)

EPA’s Action to Delay Protections Means Dire Local Impacts & Is Illegal Waterkeepers Chesapeake strongly oppose EPA’s proposal to delay compliance deadlines for the Steam Electric Effluent Limitations and Guidelines (ELG), which became final in November 2015 and went into effect at the beginning of 2016. EPA should immediately reinstate all compliance deadlines for the 2015 ELG rule. EPA should also notify state permitting authorities and power plant utilities that the ELG rule is in effect and must be implemented according to the compliance deadlines outlined in the 2015 rule, which already allow utilities plenty of time to come into compliance. “By allowing toxic pollutants from power plants, such as toxic metals, arsenic, selenium, and lead, into our waterways there will be a tremendous impact on our entire region. Our waterways, communities and children will be irreversibly harmed if EPA delays the compliance deadlines of the ELG rule,” said Betsy Nicholas, Executive Director, Waterkeepers Chesapeake. Prior to being finalized in 2015 these standards had not been updated since 1982, despite the fact that coal-burning power plants and other steam electric power plants are THE largest toxic water polluters in the country, responsible for approximately 30% of all toxic pollution dumped into surface waters by industries regulated under the Clean Water Act. The 1982 rules didn’t place limits on toxic pollutants in power plant discharges. Delaying the new toxic water pollution protections sets us back three and a half decades. The Delay Has Dire Local Impacts In June, the Trump administration…
WATERKEEPERS CHESAPEAKE MEDIA STATEMENT Susquehanna River Named #3 in Top Ten Most Impaired Rivers in America American Rivers Report says River Further Imperiled by North American Energy Security and Infrastructure Act of 2015 American Rivers recently included the Susquehanna River on the list of its Top 10 “At Risk” rivers in America. The number three ranking of the Susquehanna comes as no surprise to Waterkeepers Chesapeake and our Susquehanna Riverkeepers, who have been working on issues of water quality in this watershed for over a decade. The river suffers from multiple impairments over its 464 miles (from New York to Pennsylvania to Maryland). There is stormwater runoff with associated agricultural and urban pollution, unmanaged industrial contamination as well as nutrient and sediment impairments from the Conowingo hydroelectric dam that operates near the town of Conwingo, Maryland. Betsy Nicholas, Executive Director of Waterkeepers Chesapeake, said that Riverkeepers who monitor water quality throughout this watershed have been ringing the alarm bells for years. “There are a lot of problems with the Susquehanna, the source of half the freshwater that flows into the Chesapeake Bay. The health of this river is critically important to our region,” Nicholas said. “A bill currently working its way through Congress would compound this watershed’s problems by ceding control of Conowingo Dam to FERC [Federal Energy Regulatory Commission], a federal regulatory body that has shown little concern for protecting water quality, but key attentiveness to the interests of energy companies. Particularly in this case, states should get a say.”…

LTE: Conowingo Dam Needs Better Fish Ladder

According to its mission statement, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service exists to "conserve, protect and enhance fish, wildlife and plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people." I am grateful to this federal agency for pushing Exelon Corporation to make significant improvements to the Conowingo Dam to facilitate fish-passage. ("Conowingo Dam fish-lift overhaul urged to restore Susquehanna's shad, eels," Aug. 12). The dam has been blocking fish and eels from reaching the upper Susquehanna River since its construction in 1928. Today, 87 years later, we have a much better understanding of how important shad, river herring and eels are to our natural environment. Exelon makes a healthy profit from operating Conowingo and is seeking a new license to continue doing so. Now is the time to insist that Exelon bring its dam up to modern environmental standards and help restore the fisheries that its dam has harmed. Even as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service seeks badly-needed improvements to Conowingo's failing fish passage system, the hydropower industry is working in Congress to strip the agency's authority. The so-called Hydropower Improvement Act of 2015 would give the final say to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, an energy-permitting agency that often undermines agencies' attempts to improve fish passage, water quality and other environmental protections at hydropower dams. As the industry lobbies Congress for a free pass on fish passage, could Exelon be trying to delay its own fish passage obligations until a time when they are no…


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