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Md. DNR: Data hasten need to deal with Conowingo

Published on NewsOK Modified: January 15, 2013 at 5:48 pm •  Published: January 15, 2013
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Exelon's license expires in September 2014 and sediments behind the dam have been identified as the highest priority issue for relicensing, Michael said.

The new report comes as some county officials are expressing concerns about the costs of a new federally led restoration strategy.

Chip MacLeod, an attorney representing the Clean Chesapeake Coalition, a group of seven counties challenging the plan, said the announcement lifted his spirits. The attorney has said the impact of the dam has been overlooked in the restoration process.

"Nobody today is on the hook for doing something about those sediments," MacLeod said, adding that relicensing of the dam is the only opportunity to have Exelon "at the table unless they want to be."

The new strategy being led by the federal Environmental Protection Agency's Chesapeake Bay Program assigns strict pollution limits to each area in the six-state bay watershed. The limits are for pollutants such as nitrogen and phosphorus from fertilizer, sewage, auto and power plant emissions cause oxygen-robbing algae blooms once they reach the bay, creating dead zones where sea life can't live. Sediments cloud the water and can bury grasses and oysters.

Farmers and agriculture interests are concerned because agriculture runoff is the single largest source of bay pollutants. While agriculture has made gains in reducing bay pollution, the strategy calls for even more reductions from all sectors, including limits on stormwater runoff from roads and developments.

The restoration is also being challenged in a federal court in Pennsylvania by groups including the American Farm Bureau Federation and the National Association of Home Builders.