Annapolis (ANN) – Maryland Delegate Jay Jacobs (R-36) joined forces with urban and rural legislators to introduce House Joint Resolution 8 (HJ8) that will hold the Exelon Generation Company, LLC, financially responsible for a portion of the Conowingo Dam’s cleanup costs, as well as at least 25 percent of the costs associated with the Dam’s Watershed Implementation Plan (WIP). Exelon owns and operates the dam, located on the lower Susquehanna River in Maryland, approximately 10 miles north of where the river meets the Chesapeake Bay.
“This bipartisan legislation presents a common-sense solution to reducing the sediment pollution stored behind the Conowingo Dam,” said Betsy Nicholas, Executive Director of Waterkeepers Chesapeake. “The burden for cleaning up pollution behind the Conowingo Dam should not fall solely on Maryland taxpayers. Exelon is a multi-million-dollar corporation and should pay its fair share of the total cleanup costs. We urge the General Assembly to support this resolution to sustain the upkeep of the dam and protect clean water.”
To help the state meet its requirements to clean up the Chesapeake Bay by 2025, Maryland is including a WIP specifically to address Conowingo Dam for the first time. WIPs document the steps, measures and practices Maryland and its local jurisdictions take to achieve and maintain overall Chesapeake Bay cleanup goals.
“As a representative of the Eastern Shore and watermen, my constituents and I are on the front lines of downstream effects of pollution from Conowingo Dam – particularly acute during flooding events,” Delegate Jacobs said. “Our livelihoods are already being affected by Chesapeake Bay pollution – we should not have to bear the financial responsibility for pollution from Conowingo as well.”
Since its construction in 1928, Conowingo Dam has trapped polluted sediment from the Susquehanna River and its 27,000-square-mile drainage area. The Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) has concluded that the dam’s reservoir is now at capacity and studies estimate that there are nearly 200 million tons of sediment, nutrients and other pollutants trapped behind the dam. During major floods caused by large storms, powerful floodwaters can scoop out or “scour” the stored sediment pollution behind the dam and send that downstream to the Chesapeake Bay.
Supporters of the bill say they believe it is imperative to get Exelon “on the hook” for at least a portion of the clean up costs to ensure the success of the Chesapeake Bay clean-up effort.
Some of the other sponsors of the joint resolution include:
Del. David Moon (D, MoCo)
Del. Julie Palakovich Carr (D, MoCo)
Del. Vaughn Stewart (D, MoCo)
Del. Carl Anderton (R, Wicomico)
Del. Steven Arentz (R, Kent, Queen Anne’s and Caroline)
Del. Nicholaus Kipke (R, Anne Arundel & Minority Leader)
Del. Kathy Szeliga (R, Baltimore and Harford)