State eyes potential dredging of Conowingo Dam
— 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.”
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.”
A work group will look for information about costs and new technologies that could re-use the dredge material at the Conowingo Dam.