How does the Conowingo Dam capture sediment, and what will happen once the reservoir is full?

Bruce Michael, Director of Resource Assessment at Maryland Department of Natural Resources, visits the Conowingo Dam on the Susquehanna River to describe the hydroelectric plant’s evolving impact on the Chesapeake Bay watershed.

The Conowingo Hydroelectric Generating Station, or Conowingo Dam, is one of three dams on the lower Susquehanna River. While the reservoir behind the dam has long captured sediment—and the nutrients that are often attached—flowing downstream, reducing the amount of sand, silt, nitrogen and phosphorous entering the Chesapeake Bay, recent studies have drawn attention to its changing effectiveness as a “pollution gate.”

  • Produced by Will Parson
  • Music/Audio: “A Moment of Jazz” by Ancelin
  • Photography: Additional images by Wendy McPherson/USGS, Jane Thomas/University of Maryland Center for Environmental Studies and NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

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