Maryland to begin Conowingo Dam sediment characterization study

The Maryland Environmental Service (MES), on behalf of the State of Maryland, is moving forward with the first portion of the Conowingo Dredging and Innovative and Beneficial Reuse Pilot Project.

Earlier this month, the Conowingo Dam Sediment Characterization Study Right of Entry was signed.

Scientific reports confirm that Conowingo Dam has reached full capacity and can no longer prevent pollution from entering Chesapeake Bay, which severely threatens the ability to meet bay cleanup goals. Governor Larry Hogan’s Administration’s holistic strategy includes conditions relating to the proposed relicensing of the dam; the pilot project on beneficial reuse of dredged material; and a multi-state Watershed Implementation Plan, specifically to mitigate the effects of upstream discharges and the lost trapping capacity of Conowingo Dam on Chesapeake Bay restoration.

In October 2019, Exelon Generation reached a settlement agreement with the state of Maryland to protect the long-term health of the Chesapeake Bay and preserve Maryland’s largest source of renewable energy, the 572-MW Conowingo hydroelectric plant.

Work is expected to begin on the sediment characterization portion of the pilot project in December 2020. MES contractor Northgate Dutra Joint Venture will be collecting sediment samples in the Maryland portion of the Susquehanna River for chemical and physical analysis. This data will be used to categorize the sediment according to the Maryland Department of the Environment’s (MDE) Innovative and Beneficial Reuse guidance to help determine environmentally safe reuse options. Modeling tools are also being considered to simulate different dredging scenarios and their influence on Chesapeake Bay water quality.

The state continues to work with Exelon Generation regarding right of entry to perform the pilot dredging project. It is expected that this part of the project would commence in the fall of 2021.

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