Ho­gan opens door to dredg­ing be­hind Conowingo Dam

Record Observer - - News - By CH­ERYL MATTIX cmat­tix@ce­cil­whig.com

PORT DE­POSIT — Gov. Larry Ho­gan chose a cliff over­look­ing the Conowingo Dam on Thurs­day af­ter­noon, July 7, to an­nounce his ad­min­is­tra­tion’s sharp­ened fo­cus on find­ing out more about the role played by Susque­hanna River sed­i­ment to the pol­lu­tion of the Ch­e­sa­peake Bay.

Ho­gan said his ad­min­is­tra­tion 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 July 7, 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.

Ron Fithian, chair­man of the Clean Ch­e­sa­peake Coali­tion and a Kent County com­mis­sioner, at­tended the July 7 an­nounce­ment along with coali­tion at­tor­ney Charles “Chip” 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 said that all progress made to clean up the Ch­e­sa­peake Bay could be lost with one large storm, 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 Bay. The coali­tion is funded by sev­eral East­ern Shore coun­ties, in­clud­ing Ce­cil County.

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 Ce­cil Whig be­fore his an­nounce­ment. “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 the news 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 said the work group is go­ing to look at so­lu­tions, such as dredg­ing, but also ben­e­fi­cial re­use of dredge ma­te­ri­als. All of this ac­tiv­ity is mov­ing ahead dur­ing the re-li­cens­ing process for Ex­elon to op­er­ate the Conowingo Dam.

Grum­bles said that the re-li­cens­ing de­ci­sion has been de­layed once and in­di­cated it could be de­layed again if more time is needed to gather in­for­ma­tion.

PHOTO BY JA­COB OWENS

Gov. Larry Ho­gan, flanked by Mary­land Sec­re­tary of the En­vi­ron­ment Ben­jamin Grum­bles and Act­ing Mary­land Sec­re­tary of Plan­ning Wendi Peters, announces a new work group to as­sess the im­pact of sed­i­ment buildup be­hind the Conowingo Dam on Thurs­day, July 7.

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