2017 Article Archives

December 15, 2017

New CBF Study Finds Exelon Able to Make Significant Contributions to Mitigate Environmental Impacts of Conowingo Dam While Remaining Profitable

As discussed during the most recent Coalition meeting, here is a link to the recently released study commissioned by the Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) and The Nature Conservancy (TNC) indicating that Exelon Corporation generates sufficient annual net revenue from Conowingo Dam operations to afford mitigation conditions on the water quality certification for the dam’s relicensing. 

Articles of Note                                                                                        

Report:  Dam profitable enough to invest in mitigation
Cecil Whig

Environmental Groups say Conowingo Dam owner can afford to help restore Bay
Bay Journal

Meet Gov. Hogan’s Ambassador to the Environmental World
Maryland Matters

Enviro Early Endorsements for General Assembly (by the MD League of Conservation Voters and the MD Sierra Club)

EPA awards $150,000 to University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science to upgrade information technology for Chesapeake Bay restoration
University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science (Cambridge, Md.)

Pennsylvania’s New Bay Plan to Focus on Counties
Lancaster (Pa.) Farming

November 30, 2017

CCC Meeting Next Week – December 6 at MACo Conference

The Clean Chesapeake Coalition will be meeting next Wednesday, December 6, from 4:30-5:30 pm during the upcoming MACo Winter Conference at the Hyatt Resort in Cambridge.  We will be joined by MDE Secretary Ben Grumbles and Lee Currey, Director of MDE’s Science Services Administration, for an update and to answer questions about the ongoing Bay TMDL midpoint reassessment; water quality certification for Conowingo Dam relicensing; nutrient trading and the development of Maryland’s Phase III WIP.

BPW To Decide Permit for Dredging Natural Oyster Shell

The Clean Chesapeake Coalition has submitted written comments in support of the application of the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to the Board of Public Works for a tidal wetlands license to dredge natural indigenous oyster shell from Man O’War Shoal in the upper Chesapeake Bay.  Natural shell is the absolute best and least expensive substrate for the recruitment and growth of oysters.  The importance of shell to broad scale oyster restoration was evidenced by an emergency bill enacted by the General Assembly in 2009 that mandated DNR to apply to MDE and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for a permit to dredge shell from Man O’War Shoal, where there is abundance of natural shell.   While DNR has fiddled and ENGOs have advocated for the dumping of “alternative substrate” (rubble, imported shell, stone) in sanctuaries, the seafood industry, fishing communities and local economies have suffered due to the lack of indigenous shell.  By its comments, the CCC hopes that the BPW will return common sense and proven practices to the management of the oyster fishery and Bay wide restoration efforts.  More oysters in the water means more filtering…

Environmental Group Focuses on Sewage Plant Pollution

The Environmental Integrity project (EIP) has released a report on pollution at sewage and wastewater treatment plants in the Chesapeake Bay watershed.Thereport cites federal and state records showing that Baltimore City’s Patapsco plant (the second largest sewage plant in Maryland) discharged 2.3 million pounds of nitrogen pollution in January through August of 2017, more than twice the amount allowed for the year; and released 3.7 million pounds of nitrogen pollution last year (2016) – four times its permit limit.  The report says it’s one of 21 wastewater plants in the watershed that violated permit limits last year. Maryland’s largest WWTP (Baltimore City’s Back River plant) discharged 3.6 million pounds of nitrogen last year into a Bay tributary – 29% more than its 2016 permit limit. For the entire EIP report dated November 29, 2017, clickHERE.

For context, a conventional septic system delivers about 23.2 pounds of nitrogen to the groundwater (per MDE website).  That means the nitrogen pollution from the Patapsco plant in 2016 (3.7 million pounds) was the equivalent of 159,483 septic systems.  Making matters worse is the fact that WWTPs discharge directly into tributaries that flow to the Bay while the vast majority of septic systems discharge in groundwater.

WQC for Conowingo Dam Relicensing – Public Hearing December 5

The public hearing on the application of Exelon to MDE for water quality certification related to Conowingo Dam relicensing is scheduled for next Tuesday, December 5, at 6:00 pm, at Harford Community College.  The CCC will attend to provide testimony to reiterate and supplement the written comments filed in August 2017.

Articles of Note

Maryland’s Chesapeake Bay defenders hold breath on EPA cuts, wait on Senate

Capital News Service

Chesapeake Bay states push for more conservation funding
American Agriculturist

Bill Would Triple Funding for Farmers Helping to Clean Chesapeake Bay
WBOC 16 (Salisbury, Md.)

Pa. must explore better ways to meet federal clean water mandates
PennLive (Mechanicsburg, Pa.) OpEd

November 25, 2017

CCC Submits Comments to BPW in Support of Man O’War Shoal Shell Permit

The Clean Chesapeake Coalition submitted written comments (dated November 20, 2017) in support of the application of the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to the Board of Public Works for a tidal wetlands license to dredge natural indigenous oyster shell from Man O’War Shoal in the upper Chesapeake Bay. See these below.

Cover Letter to BPW re CCC Comments to BPW in Support of Man O’War Shoal Shell Permit
CCC Comments to BPW re Support of Man O’War Shoal Shell Permit

November 9, 2017

Yesterday, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 3043 (Hydropower Policy Modernization Act of 2017) by a vote of 257 to 166.  As noted in the email exchange below, Congressman Harris voted against the bill along with the other Maryland Representatives in the House.

Link to House Roll Call Vote re H.R. 3043:


The CCC submitted comments in August to the Maryland Congressional Delegation in opposition to H.R. 3043. Some Coalition counties submitted similar comments independently.  Attached is a copy of email correspondence to Congressman Harris’ office when asked this week for clarification about the Coalition’s concerns and specific issues with the bill.  Cecil County was also asked to elaborate on their concerns with the bill; which it did per the email below

CCC email to Congressman Harris Office

November 6, 2017

Articles of Note

Study suggests oysters offer hot spot for reducing nutrient pollution
Williamsburg-Yorktown (Va.) Daily

October 25, 2017

Federal Hydropower Legislation (H.R. 3043)

See correspondence from Senator Ben Cardin to Cecil County regarding H.R. 3043 (Hydropower Policy Modernization Act of 2017 now pending in the House of Representatives).

MES RFP for Conowingo Pilot Project – Addendum #4 Issued

MES has issuedAddendum No. 4 to the “Conowingo Capacity Recovery & Innovative Reuse & Beneficial Use Pilot Project” RFP.  The addendum includes answers to more questions from potential offerors and information.  ClickHERE for the RFP and Addenda.  The deadline for proposals is still November 7, 2017.

Articles & Media of Note

MD senators call on EPA to reverse Bay Journal decision
Bay Journal

Query: if EPA’s decision to reduce some federal grant funding to the Bay Journal sets a “dangerous nationwide precedent” (according to Maryland’s U.S. Senators), then what is downplaying or ignoring the downstream impacts of Conowingo Dam on the Maryland portion of the Bay…?

What’s Happening Upstream…Above the Dam

Pennsylvania projects get $5.8 million in grants for work to protect Chesapeake Bay
Lancaster (Pa.) Online

DEP to Cover Cost of at Least 800 Agricultural Plans for Clean Water in Pennsylvania’s Part of Chesapeake Bay Watershed
Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection

Conowingo Capacity Recovery & Innovative Reuse Pilot Project RFP

Letter from Senator Cardin to Cecil County re HR3043

October 23, 2017

MDE Public Hearing Annoucement – Proposed Conwingo Relicensure


Town of Port Deposit – Conowingo Dam Pilot Dredging Proposal Potential Impact
concerns.impacts.conowingodam.TOWN OF PO[…] 
Adobe Acrobat document [196.6 KB]


Letter from Artesan Resources to Deputy Cheif of Staff Jeannie Haddaway-Riccio
09 19 2017 Letter to Jeannie Haddaway-Ri[…] 
Adobe Acrobat document [76.1 KB]

October 19, 2017

Town of Perryville Writes About Conowingo Dam Impacts

The Town of Perryville, situated on the Susquehanna River in Cecil County downstream of Conowingo Dam, recently addressed their concerns about adverse community impacts from Conowingo Dam. See letter to Governor Hogan, which was also filed with FERC.

MDE Issues Draft Regulations for Nutrient Trading

Theproposed regulations are designed to provide greater flexibility and reduce costs in achieving Maryland’s goals to meet federal pollution limits for the Bay. The voluntary program would establish a marketplace for private sector participation in meeting Bay cleanup goals.  Of importance to the CCC in any formal nutrient credit/exchange program is (1) incentive for Conowingo reservoir dredging and sediment management as a BMP to keep accumulated nutrients from ever reaching the Maryland portion of the Bay, and (2) in water oyster restoration as a BMP to cost-effectively filter nutrients from the Bay.  We intend to file comments on the proposed regulations accordingly.  MDE’s draft regulations are attached.    

Maryland proposes regulations for faster, better Chesapeake Bay restoration

Maryland Department of the Environment

State proposes rules for buying and selling pollution credits

The Baltimore (Md.) Sun

Recent reports about acidity levels in the Bay appear to be the water quality threat of the day for certain ENGOs to crank up their fundraising and grant-writing machines, and to lay blame for the dismal performance of the costly oyster restoration projects in sanctuaries.

Acidification Of Chesapeake Bay Could Threaten Oyster Recovery Efforts

CBS 13 (Baltimore, Md.) WJZ – TV

Chesapeake acidification may compound issues already facing bay, researchers find

The Baltimore (Md.) Sun

A whistleblower says he reported odors near the secret sewage pipe for years

Baltimore Brew

Local contributions to Bay progress highlighted at Water Quality Forum

Metropolitan Washington (D.C.) Council of Governments (Blog)


Maryland Water Quality Trading Proposed Regulations by MDE
MWQTP Proposed Regulations by MDE (10111[…] 
Adobe Acrobat document [265.5 KB]


Town of Perryville Letter to Governor Hogan
Town of Perryville Letter to Gov Hogan ([…] 
Adobe Acrobat document [83.4 KB]



September 19, 2017: Letter from Congressman Ruppersberger to CCC Chair Ron Fithian re:Conowingo relicensure
Ltr from Congressman Ruppersberger re HR[…] 
Adobe Acrobat document [48.2 KB]


Conowingo Dam Update: Talking Points for the Clean Chesapeake Coalition Meeting
Conowingo Update at MACO (LCurrey) 20170[…] 
Adobe Acrobat document [1’023.2 KB]

September 16, 2017

Decision on Recalibration of Bay TMDL Coming Soon

During last week’s Chesapeake Bay Commission meeting there was considerable discussion related to the Conowingo factor (accumulated sediments / loss of trapping capacity) and how responsibility for the additional pollution with be divided among the Bay jurisdictions as part of the 2017 midpoint reassessment.  A decision by thePrincipals’ Staff Committee(PSC) within the Chesapeake Bay Program (CBP) is expected by the end of October.  The CBP PSC is currently chaired by MDE Secretary Ben Grumbles.  The PSC acts as the policy advisors to the CBP Executive Council (which is now chaired by Governor Hogan).

Articles & Media of Note

House moves to keep EPA from enforcing Bay pollution diet
Bay Journal

Amendment to EPA funding bill would strip agency of power to enforce Chesapeake cleanup plan
The Baltimore (Md.) Sun

Maryland, U.S. reach agreement with Baltimore City to curtail sewer overflows, improve water qualityMaryland Department of the Environment

Agreement sets timelines for completion of estimated $2.5 billion in improvements by 2021, requires improved public notification, sets cleanup reimbursement process for sewage backups.

Chesapeake Bay cleanup requires EPA involvement
The Baltimore (Md.) Sun – Editorial

September 8, 2017

Articles & Media of Note

Maryland Environmental Service Releases Conowingo Dam Pilot Project Request for Proposal

The (Harford County, Md.) Dagger

What’s Happening Upstream – Above the Dam

Did You Know? Mining in the Susquehanna
Harrisburg (Pa.) Magazine

 Interesting history about “The Hard Coal Navy” that sailed the Susquehanna in search of hard (Anthracite) coal to mine from the river.  According to a 1995 USGS report(Water-Resources Investigations Report 95-4122), the sediment deposits behind the three dams in the lower Susquehanna River (Safe Harbor, Holtwood and Conowingo) include an estimated 19.7 million tons of coal.  With better science, what is that estimate today, and can it mined? 

Report highlights farm manure pollution in four PA counties
Bay Journal

September 1, 2017

H.R. 3043 – Hydropower Policy Modernization Act of 2017(here)

Consistent with prior testimony, the CCC submitted comments this week to the Maryland Congressional Delegation regarding the latest legislative effort by the hydropower industry (Exelon) to undermine the authority of state governments under Section 401 of the Clean Water Act to review and, as appropriate, impose licensing conditions on hydropower dams through the water quality certification process.   A copy of the Coalition’s comment letter is attached, along with a copy the State of Maryland’s comment letter re H.R. 3043, issued by MDE and DNR.   

MES Issues RFP for Conowingo Pilot Dredging Project

As anticipated, MES has issued RFP 1-18-3-21-8 titled Conowingo Capacity Recovery and Innovative Reuse and Beneficial Use Pilot Project – to perform a pilot dredging and innovative reuse and beneficial use project on approximately 25,000 cubic yards of sediment in the Maryland portion of the Susquehanna River upstream of the Conowingo Dam.

Here is an excerpt from the RFP bid documents (which are extensive) summarizing the project:

“MES is seeking a firm that can accommodate all components of the proposed pilot project including: 1) preparation of staging areas and roadways; 2) hydraulically dredging approximately 25,000 cubic yards of material; 3) pumping a slurry of sediment and water from the dredging location to a landside staging area; 4) dewatering, handling, and stockpiling the material at the staging location; 5) processing the material, if needed, at an interim staging location; 6) beneficially using and/or innovatively reusing all the dredged material in the State of Maryland in accordance with the most recent version of the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) Innovative Reuse and Beneficial Use of Dredged Material Guidance Document(http://mde.maryland.gov/programs/Marylander/Pages/dredging.aspx); and 7) restoration of disturbed areas. The purpose of the Conowingo capacity recovery and innovative reuse and beneficial use pilot project is to evaluate the feasibility of a scalable project to dredge accumulated sediments and beneficially reuse or innovatively use them within the new Maryland guidance framework and minimize potential sediment releases over the dam.”

Articles & Media of Note

Maryland Wants to Muck Out Exelon Dam to Save Chesapeake Bay

Blommberg BNA

EPA yanks funding for Bay Journal
The (Newport News, Va.) Daily Press

Acid zone in Chesapeake Bay identified
University of Delaware (Newark, Del.)

What’s Happening Upstream – Above the Dam

Group points finger at Lancaster County for ‘disproportionate’ manure pollution of Chesapeake Bay
Lancaster (Pa.) Online