City of Havre de Grace could increase frequency of dredging as more sediment comes down Susquehanna

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Sediment flowing down the Susquehanna River continues to settle and build up in marinas and harbors off the City of Havre de Grace, so much this year that city leaders anticipate increasing the frequency of dredging the areas from every five years to four years.

This year has been the wettest on record in the Baltimore region, with 63.01 inches of precipitation recorded at Thurgood Marshall BWI Airport as of Nov. 16, The Baltimore Sun reported.

With heavy rain — and some snow this month — comes runoff into waterways, meaning excess silt and sediment building up in the Susquehanna behind the Conowingo Dam, then flowing south and settling near Havre de Grace, where the river meets the Chesapeake Bay.

Multiple spill gates on the dam, which spans the river between Darlington in Harford County and Port Deposit in Cecil County, were opened in July and September to handle rising water levels upriver because of heavy rains in New York and Pennsylvania.

“It’s been a horrible season for our river and northern bay, just the clarity of the water,” Mayor William T. Martin said last week.

The sediment has affected the city-run marina at the Yacht Basin in Tydings Park as well as privately-owned marinas, according to the mayor. He noted that, with so much rainy weather this year, fewer people have been boating, thus harming city fuel sales.

“It’s putting us behind the eight-ball,” Martin said of the conditions.

City officials relayed their concerns to state legislators during the Harford County delegation’s pre-legislative session meeting Nov. 14 at the Bel Air Library.

Director of Administration Patrick Sypolt, who presented the city’s legislative agenda for 2019 with Chief of Staff Steve Gamatoria, said the city “might have to start” dredging every four years rather than five years.”

He encouraged legislators to continue to support Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan in his efforts to work with New York and Pennsylvania officials to improve conditions on the Susquehanna.

“We are certainly feeling the effects of [current conditions],” Sypolt said.

The city has secured a dredging contractor for 2018, according to Martin. The mayor said Havre de Grace officials want state legislators to advocate on behalf of the city in Annapolis, to get the state to adjust its five-year schedule for dredging.

“We need help from the state, because the state gives us a significant amount of money to do the dredging,” Martin said.

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