A Call for Action: The Conowingo Dam and the Chesapeake Bay

By Brooke Mosca

Student, Communication Arts, St. John’s University, NY

For nearly a century, Maryland’s Chesapeake Bay has been severely polluted, failing to meet sufficient clean water standards.  In recent years, the Conowingo Dam, upstream the Susquehanna River, has further contributed to this problem, as it has silted in and no longer blocks harmful sediment and chemicals from entering the bay.  

Larry Hogan, Maryland’s governor, has far from turned a blind eye to this paramount issue; in fact, he issued a Section 401 water quality certification, urging Exelon, the owner of the dam, to contribute significant funding to reduce the bay’s pollution, which has been perpetuated by the dam.  To Hogan’s dismay, Exelon has pushed back.

As a Catholic, who believes in the Catholic Social Teaching of caring for God’s creation, Exelon’s response concerns me.  Pope Francis writes in his encyclical “Laudato Si’,” “The urgent challenge to protect our common home includes a concern to bring the whole human family together to seek a sustainable and integral development.”  This makes it clear that caring for God’s communal creation must be a unified effort of all His children, which includes Exelon.  Therefore, I firmly believe that the company should exercise a greater willingness to cooperate with Governor Hogan’s efforts to reduce pollution in the Chesapeake Bay.  I also urge Representative Andy Harris to remain steadfast in enforcing the Section 401 water quality certification with Exelon, which holds the company responsible for reducing the pollutants that pass through the dam and into the bay.

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