Saturday 16 February 2019

Conowingo Dam (14)

The Conowingo Dam is owned and operated by Exelon Generation Company, LLC and its current license expired in 2014. Exelon is seeking a new 50-year license from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). Under Section 401 of the Clean Water Act, the State of Maryland must issue a Water Quality Certification, certifying that the project will meet state water quality standards before FERC can grant a new license.

The State of Maryland issued its Water Quality Certification on April 27, 2018, and Exelon sued the State on May 25 in federal district court, challenging the state’s authority to require any pollution reduction from upstream sources. On July 20, Waterkeepers Chesapeake and Lower Susquehanna Riverkeeper, represented by Earthjustice, filed a motion to intervene in a federal court action regarding the relicensing of the Conowingo Dam, supporting the State’s authority under the Clean Water Act.

In addition, Waterkeepers Chesapeake and the Lower Susquehanna Riverkeeper Association filed an administrative appeal on June 8, 2018, urging the Maryland Department of the Environment to reconsider its recent water quality certification for the Conowingo Dam, which is owned and operated by Exelon Corporation. Exelon has requested a new 50-year federal license to operate the dam, and, in order to receive that license, the State of Maryland must certify that the dam’s operations will not adversely impact water quality under the Clean Water Act.

Waterkeepers Chesapeake has been working with Lower Susquehanna Riverkeeper and Earthjustice since 2014 to hold Exelon accountable for its fair share of the dam cleanup.

“This is our only opportunity in the next 50 years to get meaningful pollution reductions at Conowingo Dam – we have to hold Exelon accountable for its fair share of the cleanup,” -- Betsy Nicholas, Waterkeepers Chesapeake Executive Director. 

About the Conowingo Dam

Conowingo Dam is a hydroelectric dam that has been trapping sediment from the Susquehanna River, blocking fish passage, and affecting the water quality of the Chesapeake Bay since it was built in 1928. Nearly 200 million tons of sediment pollution have accumulated behind the dam. During major floods caused by large storms, powerful floodwaters can scoop out or “scour” the stored sediment behind the dam and send that downstream to the Chesapeake Bay. More info at http://www.conowingodam.org


READ LATEST POSTS

 

We need your help! The health of the Chesapeake Bay and Susquehanna River depend on it. Tell the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) that Exelon Corporation – the owner and operator of Conowingo Dam – must play a role in the cleanup efforts around the Dam. The Conowingo Dam, on the Susquehanna River, has held back sediment and other pollutants for decades, but recent research shows that the Dam reservoir has filled up with sediment and associated nutrients much faster than expected.  At least 100 million tons of sediment need to be removed! If a major, catastrophic-level storm happens, this sediment can and will be mobilized and delivered downstream – smothering aquatic grasses that provide food, habitats and oxygen for marine life in the Chesapeake Bay. It’s not a matter of if a major, catastrophic-level storm will happen, but when. Exelon Corporation has recently filed an application with MDE to re-license the Dam for another 46 years. MDE has the opportunity to approve, deny or place “conditions” on the Dam’s license through this process – and can require that Exelon take steps to mitigate some of the environmental harms this Dam has caused. MDE needs to hear from you on this important issue! We can’t wait another 46 years before taking action! The public has until January 15, 2018 to submit written comments to MDE on the re-licensing of Conowingo Dam. Read our blog for more more info.  
The Conowingo Dam, on the Susquehanna River, has held back sediment and other pollutants for decades, but recent research shows that the Dam reservoir has filled up with sediment and associated nutrients much faster than expected. This enormous artificial repository can be scoured by high flow events, re-mobilized, and delivered downstream by one catastrophic-level storm (think Hurricane Agnes level). If mobilized and delivered downstream, this sediment can and will smother aquatic grasses that provide food, habitats and oxygen for marine life in the Chesapeake Bay. It’s not a matter of if a major, catastrophic-level storm will happen, but when. Recently, the owner and operator of Conowingo Dam – Exelon Corporation – filed an application with the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) to re-license the Dam for another 46 years. Exelon is required to obtain a 401 Water Quality Certification from MDE, which is a requirement under the Clean Water Act that the Dam will continue to meet the State’s water quality standards. MDE has the opportunity to approve, deny or place “conditions” on the Dam’s license through this process.  On December 5th, Waterkeepers Chesapeake and Lower Susquehanna Riverkeeper attended a hearing on this re-licensing and recommended that MDE place conditions on the Dam’s license to ensure that Exelon plays a role in the cleanup efforts around the Dam. Without these necessary conditions, MDE must deny the application outright due to its major deficiencies. Conowingo Dam is a ticking time bomb that requires some major cleanup efforts. The state must…
EPA’s Action to Delay Protections Means Dire Local Impacts & Is Illegal Waterkeepers Chesapeake strongly oppose EPA’s proposal to delay compliance deadlines for the Steam Electric Effluent Limitations and Guidelines (ELG), which became final in November 2015 and went into effect at the beginning of 2016. EPA should immediately reinstate all compliance deadlines for the 2015 ELG rule. EPA should also notify state permitting authorities and power plant utilities that the ELG rule is in effect and must be implemented according to the compliance deadlines outlined in the 2015 rule, which already allow utilities plenty of time to come into compliance. “By allowing toxic pollutants from power plants, such as toxic metals, arsenic, selenium, and lead, into our waterways there will be a tremendous impact on our entire region. Our waterways, communities and children will be irreversibly harmed if EPA delays the compliance deadlines of the ELG rule,” said Betsy Nicholas, Executive Director, Waterkeepers Chesapeake. Prior to being finalized in 2015 these standards had not been updated since 1982, despite the fact that coal-burning power plants and other steam electric power plants are THE largest toxic water polluters in the country, responsible for approximately 30% of all toxic pollution dumped into surface waters by industries regulated under the Clean Water Act. The 1982 rules didn’t place limits on toxic pollutants in power plant discharges. Delaying the new toxic water pollution protections sets us back three and a half decades. The Delay Has Dire Local Impacts In June, the Trump administration…

report-polution

Upcoming Events

Feb
22

02.22.2019 10:00 am - 1:00 pm

Mar
10

03.10.2019 4:00 pm - 7:00 pm

Mar
14

03.14.2019 6:00 pm - 7:00 pm

Mar
15

03.15.2019 6:00 pm - 8:00 pm