State eyes po­ten­tial dredg­ing of Conowingo Dam

Cecil Whig - - FRONT PAGE - IS­SUE By CHERYL MATTIX

cmat­tix@ce­cil­whig.com

— A re­quest for in­for­ma­tion on a po­ten­tial Conowingo Dam dredg­ing pro­ject is un­der­way, the Ce­cil County Coun­cil learned last week.

“The RFI should be done by Septem­ber,” said Bruce Michael, di­rec­tor of re­source as­sess­ment ser­vice for the Mary­land Depart­ment of Nat­u­ral Re­sources. “If the in­for­ma­tion war­rants mov­ing ahead, the state will is­sue a re­quest for pro­posal for dredg­ing.”

ELKTON

The work group will look for in­for­ma­tion about costs and new tech­nolo­gies that could re-use the dredge ma­te­rial in a cost-ef­fec­tive way, Michael ex­plained. While the coun­cil wel­comed the dis­cus­sion, sev­eral mem­bers noted it only raised more ques­tions.

“It’s a good thing the state is in­volved,” Coun­cil­woman Joyce Bowls­bey said. “But the real ele­phant in the room is where would they put the dredge ma­te­rial?”

Coun­cil Pres­i­dent Robert Hodge said he thinks there’s an en­tire herd of ele­phants in the room, in­clud­ing place­ment of dredge ma­te­rial and cost of the pro­ject.

“I see this as be­ing years away,” he added.

Coun­cil­man Dan Sch­neck­en­burger was glad to hear the news.

“At least this is a step in the right di­rec­tion,” Sch­neck­en­burger said. “We can dis­cuss this more at our Mary­land As­so­ci­a­tion of Coun­ties sum­mer meet­ing.”

Michael said the Mary­land Ch­e­sa­peake Bay Cab­i­net

picked Mary­land En­vi­ron­men­tal Ser­vice as the lead agency on the RFI process. The Mary­land Depart­ment of Nat­u­ral Re­sources, Depart­ment of En­vi­ron­ment, Depart­ment of Plan­ning, Mary­land Port Author­ity, Univer­sity of Mary­land Cen­ter for En­vi­ron­men­tal

Science, U.S. Ge­o­log­i­cal Sur­vey and the Susque­hanna River Basin Com­mis­sion are also par­tic­i­pat­ing.

“This is in­deed a pos­i­tive devel­op­ment,” Clean Ch­e­sa­peake Coali­tion At­tor­ney Charles “Chip” MacLeod said in an up­date to mem­bers of the coali­tion June 10.

Clean Ch­e­sa­peake Coali­tion was formed about the time Mary­land is­sued wa­ter­shed im­ple­men­ta­tion pro­gram goals with a pol­lu­tion

diet aimed at clean­ing up the Ch­e­sa­peake Bay. The main mis­sion of the coali­tion is to ad­vo­cate for a clean bay, but also to aim for cost ef­fi­ciency in its im­ple­men­ta­tion with goals and stan­dards that will get the best re­sults. They have taken an ac­tive role in the re­li­cens­ing of Ex­elon’s op­er­a­tion of Conowingo Dam.

To­tal Min­i­mum Daily Load (TMDL) stan­dards and goals through WIPs were is­sued by Mary­land in 2010 with the goal of reach­ing a 100 per­cent by 2025. Some ju­ris­dic­tions have been con­cerned about the cost of im­ple­men­ta­tion, as well as a lack of fo­cus on sed­i­ment com­ing into the Ch­e­sa­peake Bay from the Susque­hanna River via Penn­syl­va­nia and New York.

“We’re look­ing at a Ch­esa- peake Bay Mid-Point As­sess­ment in 2017,” Michael said.

Mod­el­ing is cur­rently un­der­way to as­sess the progress made since 2010, ac­cord­ing to Michael, who says that data will de­ter­mine what ad­just­ments, if any, will be made to the WIP re­quire­ments.

“We have bet­ter in­forma- tion now and bet­ter mod­els,” he said, not­ing re­vi­sions will be made to the TMDL model and WIP.

“It takes a lit­tle bit of ef­fort from a lot of peo­ple to see an im­prove­ment in the wa­ter qual­ity,” Michael said. “Bay grasses are com­ing back, which is a sign of im­prove­ment, but we have a way to go.”

PHOTO COURTESY OF JANE THOMAS/UMCES-IAN

A work group will look for in­for­ma­tion about costs and new tech­nolo­gies that could re-use the dredge ma­te­rial at the Conowingo Dam.

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