From the office of Senator E.J. Pipkin:
State Senator E.J. Pipkin, Harford County Executive David Craig, and other rural representatives visited the Conowingo Dam Thursday afternoon to view its open floodgates and discuss the impact of major storms like Hurricane Sandy and 2011’s Tropical Storms Irene and Lee.
80% of the Chesapeake Bay’s pollution including sediment, phosphorus, and nitrogen comes from one source, the Susquehanna River. These pollutants come directly through the Conowingo Dam’s floodgates during major storms.
The EPA mandated Watershed Implementation Plan for Maryland intends to improve the health of the Chesapeake Bay. Now Maryland counties have begun pricing their individual plans and have identified the financial costs to be in the hundreds of millions of dollars.
Flooding, as witnessed during Hurricane Sandy and Tropical Storms Irene and Lee, has the ability to wipe out any progress in the restoration of the Bay. A recent U.S. Geological Survey estimates that the 5 days proceeding Tropical Storm Lee contributed 39% of the suspended sediment, 22% of the phosphorus, and 5% of the nitrogen to flow through the Conowingo Dam between October 1, 2002 and September 30, 2011.
Before the state and its counties commit to such heavy expenditures, Maryland should evaluate whether these efforts, in light of the Susquehanna’s polluting potential, will be in vain.