Dr. Bryan Watts, Director, Center for Conservation
"The debate over relicensing Exelon to operate the Conowingo hydroelectric generating plant due to the sediment and nutrients washing down the Susquehanna River seems misplaced. One would get the impression that running the electric turbines somehow creates silt and phosphorus rather than electricity. The sediment and nutrients come from runoff in central Pennsylvania and New York State. Some seem to think that the dam created the accumulated silt and nutrients in the lake behind the dam, but those too came from upstream, and if there had been no dam to block them, they would have been washing into the Chesapeake for the past 85 years.
Conowingo generates about 550 megawatts of power, similar to a full sized coal generating station, but cheaply and with no air or water pollution, so we should promptly authorize its use and keep it running. Yes, preventing more pollution of the Bay from the Susquehanna must be addressed. However, not using the existing electric turbines will have no effect on the accumulated silt or new materials washing down the Susquehanna into the Bay, but will increase electric costs and greenhouse gas emissions. It is a perfect lose-lose-lose decision."
George Hamilton, St. Michaels
"(They) claim to be concerned about the pollution and sediments coming down the Susquehanna River and over the Conowingo Dam. Dredging the sediment behind the dam is pointless unless we reduce the upstream sources. The multi-state WIP, overseen by the federal Environmental Protection Agency, is our best hope of forcing Pennsylvania and New York to do their part to clean up that river. It deserves everyone’s support…
… We have known what needs to be done to clean up the Bay for decades, and we need to get on with it."
George Kaplan Colora
"In response to recent coverage that the Maryland Department of Environment could deny Conowingo a permit to generate electricity ("MDE intends to deny Conowingo Dam permit," Nov. 20), Conowingo should be expeditiously relicensed by FERC and permitted to generate electricity by MDE.
The arguments surrounding the sediment contribution to the Chesapeake Bay have been extensively examined in the Army Corps of Engineers' recently released federal assessment. It shows that the negative contribution to Bay quality stems from nutrients collected in the entire watershed and passed downstream of Conowingo. The sediment scour effect at Conowingo is significantly less contributory. Discussions to-date about sedimentation have chased the wrong contributor. This study finds that nutrients are the longer term culprit. Best watershed management practices across NY, PA and MD are the logical solution path, not dredging.
This political football must be addressed by knowing the science revealed in this study. Stakeholders must take the time to digest the study and follow its lead in mitigating the nutrient's contribution, not pursuing the folly of dredging sediment.
Enhance the Bay.
Relicense the dam and look at the whole watershed issue, not just Conowingo.YES"
Paul English, Severna Park
"…Consider the Conowingo Dam's impact on Maryland's economy: $273 million in economic benefits to the state each year, including $10 million in state and local tax collections annually. The dam supports 265 full-time equivalent local jobs and also annually attracts 250,000 recreational visitors, who enjoy hiking, swimming, fishing, boating and bird watching in the dam's picturesque environment. Conowingo also provides prime breeding, nesting and foraging grounds for the American Bald Eagle and helps 1 million migratory and native fish travel over the dam for spawning in the Susquehanna each year. There are even additional plans to further develop recreational resources offered by the dam through the provision of new access facilities.
Perhaps most critically, the dam captures 2 million tons of sediment per year — sediment that would otherwise enter the upper Chesapeake Bay and wreak havoc on its vital ecosystems. It represents the last line of defense against harmful pollutants that would damage a national treasure.
Relicensing the dam is a no-brainer for Maryland. It fortifies our economy and protects our natural resources. Accordingly, the Conowingo Dam has proven worthy of our collective support."
Chairman and CEO of Sage Policy Group, Inc. and consultant to Exelon Generation