Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Maryland to Begin Conowingo Dredging

Gov. Larry Hogan’s administration says it expects a pilot program to test removing dredge materials from the Conowingo Dam to be “substantially complete” this year.

The administration announced Monday that Northgate Dutra JV will carry out a $3 million pilot project to test the quality of sediment throughout the dam reservoir. It also will dredge and reuse a small portion of it to create a market for cost-effective recovery of material that has greater value on the land than as a threat to water quality in the river or Chesapeake Bay.

The pilot project will be funded by the Maryland Department of the Environment.
When I first arrived in Maryland in 1983, I went to a conference being held on the state of the Bay. The head of the EPA Bay Program at the time (whose name I have forgotten) said that the greatest threat to the Bay was the filling of the pool behind the Conowingo Dam, because when it filled (in 30 years IIRC), the sediment washing down from upstream, along with the nutrients, would no longer be trapped behind the dam. And the world ignored it. And it came to pass, that in the last few years, the dam has been unable to retain sediment in big floods.

And now, it finally looks like they're going to do something about it. $3 million is barely a start, but its a start. There are some 200 million tons of sediment behind the dam. I hope they find something useful to do with it. I suggest rebuilding some islands.

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