AmericanFarm.com

‘Conowingo Scandal’ shows dam’s effect on Bay

By BRUCE HOTCHKISS
Senior Editor

It all started when two Locostra brohers, Thomas, 29, and Matthew, 20, were invited to dinner by a friend who lives on the Chesapeake Bay, along its northern shore.
At some point, the conversation turned to the health of the Bay and the host brought out some photos of the estuary after a storm.
“The water was black,” Thomas said. “We were shocked.”
Those photos propelled the brothers, whose roots are in Dorchester County, into a 24-7, 20-day adventure in which they produced a video documenting what they have entitled “The Conowingo Scandal.”
The video mau be viewed on youtube.com by searching the title.
“We poured out hearts into it,” Matthew said.
That’s obvious. The bayside dinner party was on July 10. The very next day, the brothers began interviews across the state.
“We were overwhelmed by our acceptance,” Thomas said.
One interviewee would send the young men to another person — waterman, farmer, homeowner, county official — impacted by the Conowingo Dam on the lower reach of the Susquehanna River when, after a storm, sedimnent which has collected behind the dam, spills into the Bay.
“We reached out to anyone involved,” the brothers ssid. “And we drove to where they were.”
The filming — Thomas is a professional photographer, his brother is studying for a biology degree at the University of Maryland College Park — took three days.
Then came the colossal job of editing. scripting the production and editing three days of filming down to 10 interviews and a seven minute video.
The brothers mounted the video on Youtube and their Indiegogo website, which can be found at https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/the-conowingo-scandal--3/x/8240986
But their mission is far from over.
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission is expected to issue a temporary license to Exelon Corp
The current license expires on Sept. 1, though a comment period on the FERC’s draft environmental impact statement on the relicensing extends to Sept. 28.
But there is a comment period extending to Sept. 28.
The Locostra brothers said they hope to win an extension of the license limited to one year, allowing them to raise the money to produce a full-length video arguing that no license should be issued without the requirement that the miles of sediment which have gathered behind the dam will be scoured. On their web site, the brothers state their case:
“The Chesapeake Bay is a national treasure. Billions of tax dollars have been and are being spent on Bay restoration. Please do everything in your power to ensure that the Conowingo Dam is only granted a temporary one-year re-license by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. The Conowingo should not receive a long term re-license until there is comprehensive, multi-state and federal plan to dredge behind the dam.
“This will regain nutrient and sediment trapping capacity — which will give the Bay, the oyster beds, and submerged aquatic vegetation a fighting chance.”