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WV AG Opposes Plan to Remove Blue Bridge Dam

February 9th, 2022 by WCBC Radio

West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, on behalf of West Virginia, is voicing his objections to the State of Maryland for purposely ignoring the questions, concerns and input of West Virginia when it decided, unilaterally, to remove all or part of the Blue Bridge Dam on the Potomac River near Cumberland and Ridgely, West Virginia.
It has come to the Attorney General’s attention that Maryland, through the City of Cumberland, plans to remove all or part of the Blue Bridge Dam to create a new type of tourism destination. The dam is now used by West Virginia residents and tourists who rely on upstream water for a recreation area and other state residents who own property downstream of the dam—citizens whose lives, livelihood and property may be adversely impacted by future flooding if the dam is removed.
“I am asking the members who represent West Virginia on the Interstate Commission on the Potomac River Basin to oppose the removal of the dam,” Attorney General Morrisey said. “The Commission should cooperate with the stakeholders and property owners as to the use, conservation and development of the river’s water and associated land resources.”   
In addition, the Attorney General is requesting that Maryland fulfill its obligation to cooperate with its West Virginia neighbors by working with all stakeholders and property owners who live both upstream and downstream of the dam to determine its future.
Stakeholders include legislative bodies, administrative agencies, non-governmental agencies, organizations, groups and individuals that will jointly decide whether the dam should be removed, modified or left in its current state.
The Blue Bridge Dam was constructed by the United States Army Corps of Engineers as a flood control device in the 1940s and 1950s. The dam was put in place in the aftermath of the St. Patrick’s Day flood of 1936, which caused damages estimated at $3 million to the Cumberland area. The U.S. Congress then authorized the Cumberland-Ridgely Flood Risk Management Project in June 1936.
The City of Ridgely contributed funds toward the construction of the dam. It is estimated up to $38 million may have been saved in potential damages since the dam was completed, more than twice what it cost to build the dam in 1936.
The states of West Virginia and Maryland are both signatory bodies of the Commission. Since the dam is located on the Potomac River, it is therefore within the Commission’s jurisdiction.