We share the State of Maryland’s commitment to restoring and sustaining the health of the Chesapeake Bay. That's why in October 2019, the State of Maryland and Constellation reached a historic agreement that will help protect the Chesapeake Bay for decades to come. The benefits to Maryland and the Chesapeake Bay are valued at more than $200 million over the anticipated 50-year life of the license, which will be funded from the dam’s earnings over that time period. These funds will be used to address key issues facing the bay, including upstream debris, fish and eel passage, nutrient reduction, mussel restoration, and resiliency initiatives.
Read more about the full agreement and all of the benefits for the Chesapeake Bay.
Protecting Our Waterways
One of the key environmental issues for the Chesapeake Bay is debris. Debris originates upstream from the more than 27,500 miles of tributaries and streams in the Susquehanna River watershed, flowing down through New York, Pennsylvania, and Maryland. Our agreement with the U.S. Department of Interior also includes significant investments in fish passage improvements at the dam and the creation or re-introduction of a trap-and-transport program to transport fish from Conowingo Dam to north of the York Haven Dam. In addition, Constellation will fund a total of $11 million for improvements to eel passage and to benefit nutrient reductions and aquatic habitats, plus $1 million to fund eel passage research.
To comply with Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) requirements, we open the Conowingo Dam's crest gates when river conditions require. We are committed to continually informing and working with community and government partners to fulfill our shared responsibility to protect and restore the health of the bay.
Constellation uses a variety of tools and resources to help remove the debris safely and efficiently, including:
- Deploying crews to operate overhead cranes and grapple devices
- Launching debris skimmer boats to assist with clean up
- Sponsoring two major annual events: the Lower Susquehanna Heritage River Sweep and Conowingo Pond clean-up day, where we remove 600 tons of debris and refuse from the river each year
- Supporting other groups also focused on bay clean-up efforts, as with our $25,000 donation in 2018 to the Chesapeake Bay Trust to support local debris clean-up efforts after a severe flooding event
Through these efforts, we removed more than 4,000 tons of debris in 2018 alone. Although Constellation voluntarily removes debris from the river, it is not possible to remove all debris flowing toward the dam from the upstream watershed. This is especially true during flood conditions, as seen during the summer of 2018 when the Susquehanna River swelled to 10 times its normal level.
Protecting Our Wildlife
The Conowingo Dam continues to play an instrumental role in wildlife conservation. In the early 1990s, a $12 million fish lift was completed at the dam, which has restored more than 1 million American shad, returning them to the upper Susquehanna River and supporting local recreational fishing. Moreover, 300 American bald eagles gather at the Conowingo Dam annually by Thanksgiving, which they use as a major breeding, nesting, and foraging ground.