Bay Journal

Topics: Pollution

Environmentalists, Shore officials oppose Conowingo settlement

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The Conowingo Dam controversy isn’t settled just yet.

Environmental groups and some rural Maryland officials are calling on federal regulators to reject the deal that the state has reached with the owner of the Conowingo Dam to address the harm the hydropower facility has caused to the Susquehanna River and the Chesapeake Bay. Spurred by that opposition, a bipartisan group of state lawmakers is making a bid to block the agreement through legislation.

Nearly 60 comments, the vast majority critical, have been filed with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission concerning the dam relicensing agreement announced in late October between the Maryland Department of the Environment and Exelon Corp. Along with a petition bearing more than 600 names, they argue that the settlement falls far short of remedying the ecological harm the dam has caused in the lower Susquehanna River and Upper Bay.

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About Pollution

Nutrient pollution, the nitrogen and phosphorus that originates from farms, wastewater treatment plants, stormwater runoff and air pollution, is a major source of pollution to the Chesapeake. In the Bay, they spur growth of algae blooms which block sunlight needed by important underwater grass beds. When the algae dies, they are decomposed in a process that depletes the water of oxygen needed by other species.

Sediment eroded from the land and streambanks degrades stream health and reduces water clarity. Toxins and other chemical contaminants also pose a direct threat to fish throughout the Bay and its watershed.

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