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After rainy November, Maryland's Conowingo Dam opens flood crest gates 'until further notice'

Debris gather behind the Conowingo Dam in October.
Debris gather behind the Conowingo Dam in October. (Matt Button / The Aegis)

The crest gates of the Conowingo Dam have been opened until further notice to allow the Susquehanna River, brimming from record November rains, to flow freely through the dam into the Chesapeake Bay, the U.S. Coast Guard announced Wednesday.

Twelve of the dam’s floodgates will be opened, releasing water and debris into the bay — and creating a potential hazard for boaters, who should use “extreme caution,” the Coast Guard said.

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“Large amounts of debris and logs are possible and buoys may be low riding due to increased current,” the Coast Guard said.

Local marinas and their boaters are already tired of dealing with the debris flowing south in the Chesapeake after the Conowingo Dam opened flood gates to relieve pressure from this summer’s record rainfall. On Thursday, seven to 10 gates of the dam are scheduled to be opened again.

The dam opened its floodgates multiple times this year because of the record rainfall.

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A Baltimore Circuit Court judge rejected a lawsuit in October filed against the state of Maryland by Exelon Corp., which owns the dam, saying the company was premature in suing environmental regulators over demands that it do more to reduce pollution flowing into the Chesapeake Bay from the Susquehanna River.

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