State Picks Pair of Companies to Dredge Conowingo Dam Sediment

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A test project to dredge sediment from behind the Conowingo Dam is taking a step forward.

The Maryland Environmental Service (MES) will award a contract to Northgate-Dutra Joint Venture, which looks to be a joint venture between Dutra Group and Northgate Environmental Services.

The pilot project aims to dredge 25,000 cubic yards of fill from behind the dam— a small portion compared to the total sediment that has built up at Conowingo. Later, scientists will look at the small "test area" that is dredged, to determine if it's worth dredging all of the sediment, at great cost. Bay Bulletin reported on the test dredging project back in August.

Governor Larry Hogan has repeatedly raised concerns about the issue of sediment overflow that is sending pollution from upstream down the Susquehanna River and into the Chesapeake Bay. A 2016 Army Corps of Engineers report show the Conowingo Dam, which trapped sediment in the past, has reached capacity and can no longer stop the nitrogen and phosphorous runoff.

“Today marks another important milestone in our progress to address critical environmental needs at the Conowingo Dam,” said Governor Hogan. "This project is one element of our multi-prong approach to improving the health of the Chesapeake Bay and it is another great example of how we are using innovative approaches to solve the most pressing environmental challenges.” 

Northgate-Dutra was selected in a competitive process to dredge the sediment, and to find creative uses for the dredged material. The contractor ranked highest of all applicants for both their technical aspect and cost aspect.

Megan Viviano