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Conowingo is not Chesapeake's only problem [Letter]

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.

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