The Frederick News-Post editorial of Nov. 19 was wrong in concluding that a new study shows that the sediment-filled Conowingo Pond is not a major cause of pollution in the Chesapeake Bay. The Conowingo Dam is a major source of pollution in the bay.

The News-Post’s editorial commented on a 1,500-page study (released Nov. 13) on effects of the Conowingo reservoir on pollution in the Chesapeake Bay. This was a joint study done by the United States Army Corps of Engineers and the Maryland Department of Natural Resources. The Baltimore Sun was quick to interpret the study as if it refuted the claims of those who argue that the water coming over the Conowingo Dam is a major pollutant of the bay. The News-Post then echoed the interpretation of the Sun. But the problem is that the study does not reach such a conclusion — just the opposite — according to the Maryland Department of Environment, in a statement issued March 18, 2014: “The draft report [the “study”] found that the loss of long-term sediment trapping capacity at the Conowingo Dam is causing impacts to the health of the Chesapeake Bay ecosystem.” MDE made this statement in support of its preliminary determination to deny the water quality certification to Exelon (in connection with Exelon’s application for re-licensure of its permit to operate the hydroelectric facility at the dam).

News-Post editors acknowledged that scouring of sediment from the Conowingo reservoir “does negatively affect a small part of the upper bay.” But The News-Post incorrectly minimized the magnitude of this effect. The scouring that accompanies major storm events causes massive and long-lasting pollution damage to the bay. This scouring takes sediment and nutrients from behind the dam and deposits them in the bay on top of oysters and aquatic plant life. This has a major negative effect on the upper and lower bay. These major storm events do major damage to the bay — damage that hurts the health of the bay for years, as it destroys the oyster habitat. Oysters are the best and natural filter for the bay.

News-Post editors quote Alison Prost, director of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, as supporting the “most cost-effective means of cleaning the bay.” I agree with this approach, but I disagree that either Prost or the Chesapeake Bay Foundation have supported the most cost-effective means of doing this. In fact, many of their proposals are extremely cost-ineffective, including current requirements that the state is proposing to require of Frederick County in the pending stormwater discharge permit.

Paul Smith

is a Frederick County Commissioner. He writes from Frederick.

(12) comments


Paul Smith, the one who betrayed the county by appointing his boss to the planning commission. You expect us to take anything you say seriously?


now he's an environmental expert after supporting the garbage incinerator that would dump 400,000 gallons of toxic water every day into the Bay, and 7 Million lbs of toxic particulate up the stack every year about a do nothing ( of value) who obviously knows nothing about what he speaks ...very happy to see him get DUMPED ...should also have happened to shreve


I guess you'd know about sediment.


Awesome comment.


"...causing impacts to the health of the Chesapeake Bay ecosystem" doesn't support the thesis that the dam "is a major source of pollution in the bay".

Where's the beef, Paul?


Paul Smith's goal is to obfuscate, distract and delay.


Yep. It's time for the new Executive to cancel any further funding for Smith's bogus "Clean Chesapeake Coalition."


Floods have a long term beneficial effect and in the Southwest they are experimenting with scheduled release of water from dams to simulate the same effects of floods. The long term effect is to push sediment (and chemical problems) out to sea. Not so good for the ocean, but a benefit to the waterways. Some short term problems may occur and this study seem to high llght them. I see long term benefits.


Paul Smith had his chance to be relevant and he failed. Twice. No one wants to hear his garbage.

Extra Ignored

loss of long-term sediment trapping capacity at the Conowingo Dam is causing impacts to the health of the Chesapeake Bay ecosystem

This means the Conowingo Dam has been trapping sediment for a long time and that has improved the health of the bay.

But because there is so much sediment already trapped, the Conowingo Dan has reached it's sediment trapping capacity.

The Conowingo Dam has never negatively affected the health of the Chesapeake Bay but it's ability to positively affect the health of the Chesapeake Bay is waning.

Please ask for help when you run into comprehension difficulty because of your lack of education and training in environmental engineering.




"Paul Smith is a Frederick County Commissioner," for a couple more hours. What he will always be is unethical. And, thankfully, he's a loser.

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