Report: midstate dams send pollutants to Chesapeake Bay

Written by Ben Allen, General Assignment Reporter | Nov 26, 2014 2:15 PM

A view of the Conowingo Dam, which was also singled out in the US Army Corps of Engineers report.

(Baltimore) -- A recent report finds two dams in Lancaster County are no longer preventing sediment from reaching the Chesapeake Bay, though the real concern is over nutrients.

The space behind the Holtwood and Safe Harbor dams on the Susquehanna River is full of sediment, which means floods wash sediment into the Bay.

That's no surprise to Anna Compton, a biologist with the US Army Corps of Engineers, which is publishing the report.

"When we started the study three years ago, the conventional wisdom was these dams are going to fill, there's going to be this excess sediment, and what can we do about it," she says.

Compton says dredging could help, but it's expensive and isn't as effective as stopping runoff of all types in the first place.

"Addressing the pollution once it's already in the system via dredging or bypassing, it wasn't effective as far as water quality improvements in Chesapeake Bay," adds Compton.

Nutrient runoff is the biggest concern.

It can come from agriculture or storm water, and it deprives fish in Chesapeake Bay of oxygen.

"So they can look for areas with larger amounts of oxygen, however when you get these large dead zones, they run out of places to go," she says.

Public comment is now open on the US Army Corps of Engineers report, with a meeting scheduled in Maryland for December 9th.

Published in News

Tagged under , , , , ,

back to top