Over the next few weeks, there will be several community meetings on the current condition and future plans for the Conowingo Dam located on the Lower Susquehanna River near the Pennsylvania-Maryland border to the north of the Chesapeake.
Why is that important for the Eastern Shore?
Well, depending on which numbers you use, sediment coming from the Susquehanna River is responsible for a significant portion of the Bay’s pollution.
As Maryland counties start paying significant costs to reduce their runoff into the Bay, many worry that the issues of Conowingo are not being addressed properly.
Here is a short quiz developed by Marie Anderson of the Democratic Club of Kent County and the Spy. Try it, and test your knowledge about Conowingo Dam.
What do you know about the Conowingo Dam?
1. The Conowingo Dam was built to:
A. Control flooding
B. Generate electricity
C. Provide recreational activity
D. All of the above
2. Sediment from upstream is trapped by:
A. The dam
B. Glorified sand buckets
C. Giant balloons
3. Sediment that leaks into the Chesapeake Bay:
A. Depletes oxygen
B. Smothers Bay grasses
C. Creates dead zones where oysters and fish die
D. All of the above
4. Which statement is not true:
A. The Conowingo Dam in on the Susquehanna River
B. It is a Federal dam project
C. The dam is located in Cecil & Harford Counties Maryland
D. Construction began in 1925
5. True or False:
“Nobody is doing anything to figure out how to handle the sediments behind the Conowingo Dam.”
Question 1: D, all of the above.
Question 2: B. These sand buckets are reaching capacity and the sediment is a real threat to the Bay. The giant sediment reservoirs at Conowingo Hydroelectric Dam — glorified sand buckets that collect millions of tons of grainy pollution near where the Susquehanna River enters the Chesapeake Bay in Maryland — are nearly full, and research shows that too much of the sediment is splashing over the dam’s wall. (Washington Post, 09/16/2012)
Question 3.D. All of the above.
Question 4: B.The dam was built by the Philadelphia Electric Co., construction was completed in 1928.
Question 5: False. In 2011, the State of MD and Army Corps Of Engineers announced that they were embarking upon a 3 year feasibility study to determine some options for what to do about the sediments behind the dam. Management options they are considering include: dredging, modifying dam operations, and sediment by-pass strategies. A final report is due in the fall of 2014. (http://www.mde.state.md.us/programs/PressRoom/Pages/092711.aspx)
Learn more. The public is invited to attend several public forums on the Conowingo Dam:
Wednesday, April 17th – Cambridge – (6:30 ~ 8:30pm) @ Dorchester County Public Library, 303 Gay Street, Cambridge, MD 21613
“The Conowingo Dam: Clean Water Impacts, Perspectives, and Solutions” is a moderated discussion of diverse viewpoints about the water quality challenges and opportunities associated with the Conowingo Dam. Sponsored by the Nanticoke Watershed Alliance, issue perspectives from a diverse panel are being presented with reactions and discussion from community leaders and the audience to follow. The program is intended to raise awareness about this important clean water issue and provide a forum for advancing solutions.
A panel discussion will be moderated by Don Rush, News Director of Public Radio Delmarva. Panelists include: Dr. William Dennison, Vice-President of Science Applications, University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science, Ron Fithian,Chair, Clean Chesapeake Coalition and Kent County Commissioner, Charles D. “Chip” MacLeod, Attorney, Funk & Bolton P.A., and Dr. Beth McGee, Senior Water Quality Scientist, Chesapeake Bay Foundation. A moderated question and answer session will follow.
Saturday, April 2o – Chestertown – Bruce Michael, Director Resource Assessment Service, MD DNR will speak at the Kent Democratic Club’s April 20 meeting, 10 A.M., Little Yellow Library building. Coffee & conversation at 9:30. Bruce will cover Susquehanna River facts, impacts on the Chesapeake Bay from high flow events, Conowingo Dam re-licensing and status of U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Lower Susquehanna River Watershed Assessment studies.