The Conowingo Dam opened about a century ago, so the massive wall of concrete has been doing its job ever since, harnessing water power in Maryland. However, it also gave the people a side benefit: it trapped sediment and slit before it could actually flow miles downstream and then pollute the Chesapeake Bay, nowadays causing a dead zone in the area. We are talking about the largest estuary in the US.
Maryland is pushing to curb pollution in dam discharges
This old dam has spawned the lower Susquehanna River, and it is still producing power. However, it can not trap sediment in the 22.5-kilometer long reservoir it has behind its walls. It has a high barrier of 29 meters, and behind it, there’s a massive inventory of coal-black muck. We are talking about 200 million tons of pollutants gathered from farmlands, towns, and industrial zones.
It really depends on who you talk to. Maryland is pushing to curb pollution in dam discharges. The issue has become a bit political. Conowingo’s operator wants to renew its federal license to operate the dam for 46 more years. This, after his old license, expired. Negotiations are still happening, and the lack of agreement about the curbing situation barely won.
Dead zone spotted in the Chesapeake Bay, accelerating the environmental decline
The estuary has formed for its blue crabs and oysters, and it has gradually rebounded after a federal cleanup program. This program was launched in 1983, and it put an end to this pollution situation in Maryland. However, the bay is getting weaker by the downpours, such as rainfall from 2018, and this year’s soggy spring.
These intense cycles of downpours are watching the pollutants in the Chesapeake from the subdivisions and farms, where people don’t handle the manure, and where they use fertilizers that are full in nitrogen and phosphorous. Researchers say that climate change is accelerating the environmental decline. This leads to more damaging algae and the dead zone in the Chesapeake Bay.