The state of Maryland is kicking off an exploration of the sediment impacted behind Conowingo Dam on the Susquehanna River and how that clay, silt and sand — mixed with various forms of debris and pollution — might be reused.
A $1.5 million study of the characteristics of the sediment behind the dam is the first phase of the project that will begin in December, according to a Maryland Environmental Service news release.
The MES contractor Northgate Dutra Joint Venture will be collecting sediment samples in the Maryland portion of the Susquehanna River and analyzing them for data that can help determine safe options for the sediment's reuse. The pilot project offers an opportunity to examine the sediment and feasibility of dredging on an initially small scale.
The effort relates to the search for solutions to the ongoing problem of sediment releases from behind the dam, which is the lowermost structure on the largest tributary to the Chesapeake Bay.
This study should have been years, no, decades ago.
I favor taking the sediments and using them to rebuild the disappearing islands of Chesapeake Bay. It's hard to imagine the sediments behind the dam is worse than the sediments in Baltimore Harbor, which is what is currently being used to rebuild Poplar Island, and is being contemplated for Barren and James Islands. If the sediments somehow is too "dirty" for direct contact with the Bay, make dikes with clean sediments to contain the dirty sediment.