Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Exelon, Feds Agree on Conowingo Fish Lift

Hickory Shad fishing in Maryland
Deal reached on fish, eel passage at Conowingo Dam
Exelon Corp. has pledged in a deal announced Monday to work to enhance spawning fish passage at Conowingo Dam over the next 50 years, seeking to revive the Susquehanna River’s meager stocks of American shad and river herring.

The Chicago-based company and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said they had reached agreement to improve at least one of two fish lifts at Conowingo and meanwhile start trucking migratory shad and river herring upriver past it and three other dams in Pennsylvania.

The agreement comes after years of negotiations between the company and wildlife agencies and conservation groups, which were seeking to revive the once-legendary spawning runs of shad and herring. The number of returning fish each spring has been trending downward since the 1980s, and wildlife agencies and conservationists wanted Exelon to make potentially costly upgrades to fish lifts there as a condition of renewing its federal license to operate the hydroelectric facility.
Exelon, for it's part, did not create the problem, having purchased the damn and it's power production facility. In addition to being a primary black start power source if the regional PJM power grid ever had a widespread emergency shutdown (blackout), the damn has also trapped enormous amounts of damaging nutrient and toxic laded sediments from upstream, saving the Bay from their effects.
The company's license to operate Conowingo expired in 2014, but the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has extended the permit while the parties — including Maryland —attempt to hash out their differences. An even more contentious issue involves what Exelon may have to do about the buildup of nutrient-laden sediment in the dam’s reservoir, which studies have shown could complicated efforts to restore the Chesapeake Bay’s water quality. 
Sure, you saved the Bay almost 100 years of problems, but what are you doing for me now?
Ron DeGregorio, president of Exelon Power and senior vice president of Exelon Generation, called the fish passage agreement a “significant step” toward the goal of reviving spring shad and herring runs.

“The trap and transport program allows fish to bypass Holtwood, Safe Harbor and York Haven Dams to successfully reach their spawning grounds,” DeGregorio pointed out. As part of the deal, Exelon pledged to truck as many as 100,000 of each species annually past all four dams.
It's not a perfect solution (they rarely are) but it's a lot better than nothing.

Wombat-socho has the giant "Rule 5 Sunday: Blue Shirt Double-Dip Edition"  ready at The Other McCain.

No comments:

Post a Comment