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Md. awards contract for Conowingo Dam dredging pilot program

Conowingo Dam (File)

Conowingo Dam (File)

Maryland took another step toward resolving the pollution crisis at the Conowingo Dam, awarding a contract Thursday for a demonstration project to remove sediment that overflows the dam and pollutes the Chesapeake Bay.

Northgate-Dutra Joint Venture won the contract, issued as part of a request for proposals from August after Gov. Larry Hogan visited the dam following a report that the sediment was polluting the bay.

“Today marks another important milestone in our progress to address critical environmental needs at the Conowingo dam,” Hogan said Thursday in a statement. “This project is one element of our multi-prong approach to improving the health of the Chesapeake Bay and it is another great example of how we are using innovative approaches to solve the most pressing environmental challenges.”

The pilot project will look for ways to dredge and reuse the sediment that has filled the dam and will cover 25,000 cubic yards. The state was looking for projects that could “innovatively reuse” sediment from the dam.

The Conowingo dam was built 1928 on the Susquehanna River about 10 miles upstream from the Chesapeake Bay and has been trapping sediment and pollution from the river that can affect the water quality of the bay. A 2016 report by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers found the dam had reached capacity, allowing the sediment and pollution to spillover into the bay. The report found the same amount of sediment and pollution was flowing into the dam as flowing out into the bay.

“Today’s notice of intent of this award provides for the State of Maryland to move forward with an action plan to address the urgent challenges of the Conowingo Dam and Reservoir,” said Roy McGrath, Maryland Environmental Service director and CEO, in a statement Thursday. “We are ready and able to implement the innovative work that MES and Northgate-Dutra Joint Venture will accomplish together for the benefit of Maryland’s environment and residents.”

The environmental service said Northgate-Dutra Joint Venture presented the best case to a technical evaluation committee based on both technical and cost aspects of the proposal. One other team submitted a bid.

The bids were reviewed by a committee made up of the Maryland Environmental Services and consultant Anchor QEA, plus staff from the Maryland Department of the Environment, the Maryland Department of Planning, the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science, Susquehanna River Basin Commission and Exelon Corp.

Exelon owns and runs the hydroelectric dam.

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