New Report Highlights Missing Link in Chesapeake Bay Cleanup Efforts

Press Releases Oct 27, 2014

ROCKVILLE, MD (October 27, 2014) – A new study reveals that removing pollution behind Maryland’s Conowingo Dam will improve the Chesapeake Bay’s health more than any other policies being implemented in Maryland. The study from the nonpartisan Maryland Public Policy Institute and the Thomas Jefferson Institute for Public Policy, will be discussed at a forum tomorrow evening at Washington College in Chestertown, Maryland.

The Institute’s study estimates that removing all 172 million tons of sediment pollution behind the dam would dramatically improve the Bay’s health at a fraction of the cost of other Bay cleanup efforts. The dredging effort would cost an estimated $4.2 billion – significantly less than the $14.4 billion the State of Maryland plans to spend on Bay cleanup efforts – while removing one of the principal threats to the Bay’s water quality, wildlife, and economic potential.

“The Conowingo Dam is the missing link to Maryland’s Bay cleanup efforts,” said Christopher B. Summers, president of the Institute. “Not only would a dam cleanup plan strengthen the Bay’s health, but it would also strengthen the ‘green collar economy’ by creating jobs in the name of the Bay restoration.  We hope this study sheds light on the enormous possibilities of simply turning our attention north to the Conowingo Dam.”

Periodic storms transform the Conowingo Dam into a large-scale source of pollution. When Tropical Storm Lee hit the Mid-Atlantic in September 2011, nearly 19 million tons of Bay-killing sediment were released from the dam over just five days – that’s 26 times greater than Maryland’s average annual Bay sediment load. The upper Bay’s oyster harvest plunged 95 percent that year, demonstrating that failure to dredge the dam can devastate Maryland’s aquatic life and the thousands of Marylanders who depend on it for their way of life.

The Conowingo Dam’s environmental impact will be the subject of a public forum Tuesday evening at Washington College.  Entitled “A Better Way to Restore the Chesapeake Bay,” the forum will feature Robert M. Summers, Ph.D., Secretary of the Maryland Department of the Environment, and leading environmental experts and observers in the Bay area. 

To register for the event, visit: