Sunday 24 February 2019

Conowingo Dam (14)

The Conowingo Dam is owned and operated by Exelon Generation Company, LLC and its current license expired in 2014. Exelon is seeking a new 50-year license from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). Under Section 401 of the Clean Water Act, the State of Maryland must issue a Water Quality Certification, certifying that the project will meet state water quality standards before FERC can grant a new license.

The State of Maryland issued its Water Quality Certification on April 27, 2018, and Exelon sued the State on May 25 in federal district court, challenging the state’s authority to require any pollution reduction from upstream sources. On July 20, Waterkeepers Chesapeake and Lower Susquehanna Riverkeeper, represented by Earthjustice, filed a motion to intervene in a federal court action regarding the relicensing of the Conowingo Dam, supporting the State’s authority under the Clean Water Act.

In addition, Waterkeepers Chesapeake and the Lower Susquehanna Riverkeeper Association filed an administrative appeal on June 8, 2018, urging the Maryland Department of the Environment to reconsider its recent water quality certification for the Conowingo Dam, which is owned and operated by Exelon Corporation. Exelon has requested a new 50-year federal license to operate the dam, and, in order to receive that license, the State of Maryland must certify that the dam’s operations will not adversely impact water quality under the Clean Water Act.

Waterkeepers Chesapeake has been working with Lower Susquehanna Riverkeeper and Earthjustice since 2014 to hold Exelon accountable for its fair share of the dam cleanup.

“This is our only opportunity in the next 50 years to get meaningful pollution reductions at Conowingo Dam – we have to hold Exelon accountable for its fair share of the cleanup,” -- Betsy Nicholas, Waterkeepers Chesapeake Executive Director. 

About the Conowingo Dam

Conowingo Dam is a hydroelectric dam that has been trapping sediment from the Susquehanna River, blocking fish passage, and affecting the water quality of the Chesapeake Bay since it was built in 1928. Nearly 200 million tons of sediment pollution have accumulated behind the dam. During major floods caused by large storms, powerful floodwaters can scoop out or “scour” the stored sediment behind the dam and send that downstream to the Chesapeake Bay. More info at http://www.conowingodam.org


READ LATEST POSTS

 

Legislation would hold Exelon financially responsible for reducing pollution (Annapolis, Md.) – Maryland Delegate Jay Jacobs (R-36) joined forces with urban and rural legislators to introduce House Joint Resolution 8 (HJ8) that will hold the Exelon Generation Company, LLC, financially responsible for a portion of the Conowingo Dam’s cleanup costs, as well as at least 25 percent of the costs associated with the Dam’s Watershed Implementation Plan (WIP). Exelon owns and operates the dam, located on the lower Susquehanna River in Maryland, approximately 10 miles north of where the river meets the Chesapeake Bay. “This bipartisan legislation presents a common-sense solution to reducing the sediment pollution stored behind the Conowingo Dam,” said Betsy Nicholas, Executive Director of Waterkeepers Chesapeake. “The burden for cleaning up pollution behind the Conowingo Dam should not fall solely on Maryland taxpayers. Exelon is a multi-million-dollar corporation and should pay its fair share of the total cleanup costs. We urge the General Assembly to support this resolution to sustain the upkeep of the dam and protect clean water.” To help the state meet its requirements to clean up the Chesapeake Bay by 2025, Maryland is including a WIP specifically to address Conowingo Dam for the first time. WIPs document the steps, measures and practices Maryland and its local jurisdictions take to achieve and maintain overall Chesapeake Bay cleanup goals. “As a representative of the Eastern Shore and watermen, my constituents and I are on the front lines of downstream effects of pollution from Conowingo Dam –…
Most people in the Chesapeake Bay region don’t think about the Conowingo Dam, a hydroelectric dam located on the Lower Susquehanna River about 10 miles upstream from where it flows into the Bay. The dam is critically important to the health and ecology – and ultimately the cleanup – of the Chesapeake Bay. Behind the Conowingo Dam, the Susquehanna River flows for 450 miles, carrying with it half of the Chesapeake Bay’s freshwater, 41% of its nitrogen, 25% of its phosphorus, and 27% of its sediment load. Pollutants in the Susquehanna come from wastewater treatment plants, agricultural, urban and suburban runoff, and other sources of pollution throughout the Susquehanna River watershed. Since its construction in 1928, the Conowingo Dam has fundamentally altered the river’s ecology – changing the seasonal river flow, blocking the migration of fish, and trapping nutrients and sediment behind the dam. Today, there are nearly 200 million tons of sediment, nutrients, and other pollutants trapped behind the Conowingo. Scientists estimate that the reservoir behind the Conowingo Dam is almost completely filled. As a result, during major floods caused by large storms, like Hurricane Agnes and Tropical Storm Lee, powerful floodwaters scoop out or “scour” the stored sediment behind the dam and send that, along with large amounts of trash and other debris, downstream to the Chesapeake Bay. In 2018, the dam’s flood gates were opened several times due to extreme rain falls and flooding, causing tons of debris, sediment and pollution to enter the Bay and clog…
Environmental Organizations point to dam release as reason to hold Exelon Corporation accountable during dam relicensing (Baltimore, Md.) – Boaters, commercial watermen and shoreline communities are coping with large amounts of trash and debris in the Chesapeake Bay and its tidal waterways, a result of powerful floodwaters from last week’s storms. Large piles of woody debris, plastic and other floating debris are evident on many shorelines on the Western Shore of Maryland. Environmentalists say that the debris is only one visible part of the slug of pollution that entered the Bay when the Conowingo Dam opened 20 flood gates last week in response to several days of heavy rain upstream of the dam. “The floating debris littering the Chesapeake Bay is like the tip of an iceberg,” said Ted Evgeniadis, Lower Suquehanna Riverkeeper. “We see the debris because it floats, but underneath that is more pollution. And if the floodwaters were powerful enough to send all that trash downstream, imagine how much sediment pollution came with it. Unfortunately, that’s going to have a lasting impact on Bay water quality.” Exelon Corporation owns and operates the dam for profit. Exelon is seeking a new 50-year license to operate the dam, but under federal law it needs the State of Maryland to certify that the dam operations will meet state water quality standards. Maryland issued its Water Quality Certification on April 27 and Exelon sued the State on May 25 in federal district court, challenging the state’s authority to require any pollution reduction from…

report-polution

Upcoming Events

Mar
10

03.10.2019 4:00 pm - 7:00 pm

Mar
14

03.14.2019 6:00 pm - 7:00 pm

Mar
15

03.15.2019 6:00 pm - 8:00 pm

Apr
9

04.09.2019 6:00 pm - 7:00 pm