‘We must ad­dress sed­i­ment’

Gov. opens door to dam dredg­ing

Cecil Whig - - FRONT PAGE - By CH­ERYL MAT­TIX

cmat­tix@ce­cil­whig.com

— Gov. Larry Ho­gan chose a cliff over­look­ing the Conowingo Dam to an­nounce his ad­min­is­tra­tion’s sharp­ened fo­cus on finding out more about the role Susque­hanna River sed­i­ment plays in the pol­lu­tion of the Ch­e­sa­peake Bay.

In the Thurs­day af­ter­noon speech, Ho­gan said his ad­min-

PORT DE­POSIT

is­tra­tion is eye­ing po­ten­tial dredg­ing of the sed­i­ment that has reached its stor­age ca­pac­ity be­hind the Conowingo Dam.

“It can’t trap any more sed­i­ment ... I’ve said all along that Mary­land should be lead­ing the charge to clean up the Bay,” Ho­gan said, con­firm­ing his ad­min­is­tra­tion has been work­ing on finding so­lu­tions for the last 17 months. “We must ad­dress the sed­i­ment is­sue, which has been ig­nored

for years.”

Af­ter con­duct­ing Mary­land’s first Conowingo Dam Sum­mit at the Don­ald­son Brown Cen­ter in Port De­posit on Thurs­day, Ho­gan an­nounced the for­ma­tion of a multi-agency work group to seek in­no­va­tive so­lu­tions to re­duce pol­lu­tion that threat­ens the Ch­e­sa­peake Bay.

A for­mal re­quest for in­for­ma­tion will serve as the tool to gather in­for­ma­tion from the pri­vate sec­tor on po­ten­tial so­lu­tions for the work group.

“By is­su­ing this RFI, we are call­ing for in­no­va­tive minds to step up with good ideas, so we can tackle this prob­lem from all an­gles with ev­ery­thing we got,” Ho­gan said.

The Ce­cil County coun­cil mem­bers had al­ready

dis­cussed the RFI dur­ing a work ses­sion last week when Coun­cil Man­ager Jim Massey called it to their at­ten­tion af­ter re­ceiv­ing a let­ter from Clean Ch­e­sa­peake Coali­tion at­tor­ney Charles “Chip” MacLeod.

Bruce Michael, direc­tor of re­source as­sess­ment ser­vice for the Mary­land Depart­ment of Natural Re­sources, said last week that the RFI is to be com­pleted by Septem­ber.

“If the in­for­ma­tion war­rants mov­ing ahead, the state will is­sue a re­quest for pro­posal for dredg­ing,” he said.

Ron Fithian, chair­man of the Clean Ch­e­sa­peake Coali­tion, at­tended Thurs­day’s an­nounce­ment along with MacLeod.

“This is a his­toric day,” Fithian said. “This is the sin­gle is­sue be­hind the for­ma­tion of the Clean Ch­e­sa­peake Coali­tion. I feel so good that our gover­nor is not tak­ing the easy way out. I think a lot of

good things are com­ing.”

Fithian noted that all progress made to clean up the Ch­e­sa­peake Bay could be lost with one large storm event, a com­mon re­frain from mem­bers of the coali­tion who be­lieve stormwa­ter con­tain­ing sed­i­ment and de­bris plays a large role in the degra­da­tion of the Bay. The coali­tion was formed when for­mer Gov. Martin O’Mal­ley’s ad­min­is­tra­tion was look­ing at agri­cul­ture as one of the big­gest con­trib­u­tors to pol­lu­tion of the Ch­e­sa­peake Bay, and it is funded by sev­eral Eastern Shore coun­ties, in­clud­ing Ce­cil County.

Del­e­gate Mary Ann Lisanti (D-Harford) was among sev­eral mem­bers of the Harford and Ce­cil county del­e­ga­tions that fol­lowed Ho­gan on his three-day tour of the area.

“This is gi­gan­tic,” Lisanti said, not­ing that for years she has be­lieved that sed­i­ment be­hind the dam was a big is­sue,

but noth­ing has hap­pened un­til now.

Ho­gan em­pha­sized the im­por­tance of Penn­syl­va­nia and New York get­ting in­volved in the ef­fort to clean up the Ch­e­sa­peake Bay.

“Penn­syl­va­nia in par­tic­u­lar, but also New York, have a ma­jor role to play, and we’re go­ing to try to make sure they are par­tic­i­pants with us,” he told the Whig be­fore his an­nounce­ment Thurs­day. “We’ve had some en­cour­ag­ing pre­lim­i­nary dis­cus­sions with Penn­syl­va­nia and we’re go­ing to con­tinue to press to see if we can get them in­volved. There’s go­ing to be some up­stream sug­ges­tions of things we can do in Penn­syl­va­nia.”

Fol­low­ing Thurs­day’s press con­fer­ence, Mary­land Sec­re­tary of the En­vi­ron­ment Ben­jamin Grum­bles said that greater co­op­er­a­tion be­tween the Susque­hanna River states

of New York, Penn­syl­va­nia and Mary­land will be needed to prop­erly tackle the is­sue.

“It won’t be all sticks, we have to of­fer car­rots as well,” he said. “We are in pre­lim­i­nary dis­cus­sions with Penn­syl­va­nia about cre­at­ing in­ter­state nu­tri­ent cred­its. We want all our de­ci­sions to be driven by sci­ence and best data and we don’t want to rush it.”

“Ex­elon will also have to play a part in this,” Ho­gan added.

The gover­nor ex­plained that the work group is go­ing to look at so­lu­tions, such as dredg­ing, but also ben­e­fi­cial re-use of dredge ma­te­ri­als. All of this ac­tiv­ity is mov­ing ahead dur­ing the re-li­cens­ing process for Ex­elon to op­er­ate the Conowingo Dam.

Grum­bles noted that the re­li­cens­ing de­ci­sion has been de­layed once and in­di­cated it could be de­layed again if more time is needed to gather in­for­ma­tion.

Mary­land is­sued To­tal Min­i­mum Daily Load (TMDL) stan­dards and goals in 2010, but the state must do a MidPoint As­sess­ment next year to de­ter­mine how ef­fec­tive the pro­gram has been with an ul­ti­mate goal of clean­ing up the Bay by 2025. Grum­bles said the in­for­ma­tion gath­ered in the RFI would be help­ful in the state’s reval­u­a­tion, which gave the process a sense of ur­gency.

Ear­lier in the day, Ho­gan along with Mary­land Depart­ment of Agri­cul­ture Sec­re­tary Joe Barten­felder vis­ited the Kilby Cream ice cream shop in Colora to sam­ple some of its fa­mous fla­vors. The gover­nor spent time talk­ing with own­ers Phyl­lis Kilby and Me­gan Cole­man about their op­er­a­tion and Rising Sun town of­fi­cials about mu­nic­i­pal is­sues while en­joy­ing a scoop of — what else — Mary­land Mad­ness ice cream.

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