Using the pandemic as an excuse, Exelon decided not to operate the fish lift at Conowingo Dam. Waterkeepers Chesapeake and Lower Susquehanna Riverkeeper immediately alerted the press, which led Exelon to pivot and announce that they would resume lift operations by May 7. As of May 27, Exelon has shut down the fish lift once again due to the presence of the invasive northern snakeheads from Asia. Unfortunately, the combination of Exelon’s nearly two months of inoperation and second shutdown of the fish elevator has done significant damage to the American shad and river herring populations, which were unable to swim up the Susquehanna River to spawn. Only 485 American shad were able to make it over Conowingo’s fish elevator, which is barely 10% of the 4,787 shad that made it over the lift by this time last year. Delaying and then halting this migration has setback the progress we have been making in restoring these fish populations from historic low levels.
You and I both know that Exelon’s decision not to operate the fish lift will have a lasting effect on our ecosystem and make it much more difficult for us to protect and restore these precious waters. This is yet another example of Exelon trying to avoid their fair share of responsibilities for operating Conowingo Dam. By failing to run the fish lifts, Exelon was not only putting our fisheries in danger, but it was actively violating an obligation of their federal license through FERC to operate Conowingo Dam.
If you feel the same way Waterkeepers Chesapeake and many Chesapeake Bay community members do, then you agree that enough is enough. Join us in sending a letter to Governor Hogan urging him once again that he should withdraw the settlement agreement that is still waiting approval at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).
We need your help to be successful in the next stage in the legal fight on the Conowingo Dam. To prepare the most effective case, Waterkeepers Chesapeake needs to raise at least $10,000 by September 30.