Town hall meeting to focus on Conowingo Dam

The Conowingo Dam will be the subject of a town hall meeting in Chestertown hosted by the environmental group ShoreRivers. Utility company Exelon is in the process of renewing its license to operate the dam for another 50 years.

CHESTERTOWN — ShoreRivers is hosting a town hall meeting next week on issues relating to the Conowingo Dam.

The meeting will be held from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 15 at the Kent County Public Library’s main branch at 408 High St., Chestertown.

ShoreRivers’ Sassafras Riverkeeper Zack Kelleher said in a news release announcing the meeting that the recently proposed settlement between Exelon and the Maryland Department of the Environment about the operation of Conowingo Dam does not adequately protect water quality or address the root of the problem.

The relicensing process is occurring now and will solidify the dam’s operation for the next 50 years — we have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to protect Chesapeake Bay, the Sassafras River and our natural resources in a meaningful way, the release states.

At the town hall meeting, Kelleher will discuss the history of the dam, the issues with the proposed settlement and how you can make your voice heard. Kelleher said state and federal officials need to hear from local residents.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission is accepting comments until Jan. 19 and grassroots advocacy at the community level like this is an integral part of ShoreRivers mission to protect Eastern Shore waterways, the release states.

It’s undeniable that the sediment, trash and debris at the dam is generated by our northern neighbors, New York and Pennsylvania, and not by the dam itself, the release states. ShoreRivers seeks to hold these states accountable for reducing their pollution as well.

However, Exelon is the only entity that profits from the water flowing through the dam, the release states. No one should be allowed to profit from a public natural resource without having to contribute to the protection and restoration of that resource. It is inexcusable that Maryland watermen, boaters, homeowners and taxpayers have to suffer the consequences of this trash and pollution flowing down the Susquehanna and are then expected to pay for the cleanup, Kelleher said in the release.

Those interested in attending the town hall should RSVP to Kelleher — zkelleher@shorerivers.org — by Jan. 14. If you are unable to attend but would still like to submit comments, let Kelleher know.

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