Save 75% - Only $49.99 for 1 full year! digitalPLUS subscription offer ends 12/1
NewsOpinionReaders Respond

Conowingo is not Chesapeake's only problem [Letter]

Floods and FloodingLaws and Legislation

Gubernatorial candidate Larry Hogan is using the Conowingo dam to attack his opponent ("Rain inspires new Hogan attack on Brown," Aug 12) in a perfect example of politicians distorting facts to suit their campaigns. The 200 million tons of sediment stored behind the Conowingo Dam are certainly a threat to the Chesapeake Bay. However, to suggest that Maryland should abandon its local cleanup programs to deal solely with Conowingo is irresponsible and just plain wrong.

On the day Mr. Hogan made his proclamation, record rainfall overflowed local rivers, creeks and streams in central Maryland, causing widespread flooding and polluted runoff. The floodwaters damaged roadways across the region and caused sewer overflows that contaminated our local waterways. This flooding and the pollution it carried did not come from the Susquehanna River or Conowingo Dam.

The recent flooding should be a rallying cry to improve local stormwater management, not an excuse to cast blame elsewhere.

There is an opportunity for Maryland to address the pollution behind the Conowingo Dam. Exelon, the dam's owner, has applied for a 46-year re-licensing to operate the dam. Maryland has authority under the federal Clean Water Act to require Exelon to make water quality improvements as part of the permitting process. The Lower Susquehanna Riverkeeper has been working to address the sediment behind Conowingo since 2006, and the other 17 local Chesapeake Bay Waterkeeper organizations are partners in this effort.

Let's use the dam licensing process to improve Maryland's water quality, not score political points.

Betsy Nicholas, Washington, D.C.

The writer is executive director of Waterkeepers Chesapeake, a local coalition of 18 nonprofit Waterkeeper organizations.

To respond to this letter, send an email to Please include your name and contact information.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
Related Content
Floods and FloodingLaws and Legislation
  • Don't forget the dam's birds [Letter]
    Don't forget the dam's birds [Letter]

    As a bird nerd, I agree that any activity at the Conowingo Dam needs major consideration of everyone and everything that will be impacted ("Damning the dam," Sept. 1). It's a major nesting area for many species, likely the largest around here for eagles and herons, and a major fly zone for...

  • Fix the Conowingo before another Hurricane Agnes hits [Letter]
    Fix the Conowingo before another Hurricane Agnes hits [Letter]

    I read with interest commentator Anirban Basu's article touting what a great asset the Conowingo dam is and how it enhances the lives of all Marylanders ("Support the dam to support Md.," Oct. 13).

  • How about aerators to clean up the bay?
    How about aerators to clean up the bay?

    I just read the article about dredging the Susquehanna River, and I couldn't help thinking back to the Seoul Olympics where they used aerators to clean up their filthy water and they got it clean enough that all of the rowing events were held in very safe water ("Study: Dredging little help...

  • Damming the bay's pollution
    Damming the bay's pollution

    Here's the gist of the recent report by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on the Conowingo Dam: Don't confuse a red herring with a red tide. The notion that all the pollution woes of the Chesapeake Bay could be heaped on one 86-year-old hydroelectric facility on the Lower Susquehanna River was...

  • All Maryland's waterways deserve protection
    All Maryland's waterways deserve protection

    The Clean Water Act has brought progress to the Chesapeake Bay, but in order to continue the bay on the path to success we must protect all the waterways in Maryland, including the Anacostia River ("Close Clean Water Act loophole," Nov. 12).

  • Support Clean Water Act
    Support Clean Water Act

    On the 42nd anniversary of the Clean Water Act, a new report from Environment America, "Waterways Restored," highlights the success the law has meant for the Anacostia River, taking it from a state of horrific pollution to giving some hope that it will be safe for swimming and fishing in little...

  • Hogan needs to reverse O'Malley's onerous farm rules
    Hogan needs to reverse O'Malley's onerous farm rules

    In what will be seen as one of soon-to-be ex-Gov. Martin O'Malley's parting shots to the incoming Hogan administration, Mr. O'Malley is pushing through new regulations controlling how farmers fertilize their land ("O'Malley rushes to propose new pollution rules," Nov. 15). Never mind the fact...

  • Dam cleanup too costly
    Dam cleanup too costly

    Regarding the recent commentary about the Conowingo Dam ("Maryland can enforce dam cleanup," Nov. 19), Bob Irvin is correct for the most part. However, let's keep in mind that the Conowingo is a man-made obstruction to sediment, leaves and tree logs that Mother Nature really intended to go to...