A handful of mud, muck and brush from the Susquehanna River, south of Columbia.
A handful of mud, muck and brush from the Susquehanna River, south of Columbia. (Daily Record/Sunday News -- Scott Fisher)
In 1972, Hurricane Agnes washed 20 million tons of sediment -- a toxic muck of soil, coal, heavy metals and other pollutants -- down the Susquehanna River, through the Conowingo dam floodgates and into the Chesapeake Bay.

Michael Helfrich, the York-based Lower Susquehanna riverkeeper, calls that flood the single biggest damaging event ever recorded in the Chesapeake Bay.

With 174 million tons of sediment now mucking up the dam's reservoir, another hurricane hit could be worse.

Even without a storm, danger looms. The reservoir is filling up with muck, and when it's full, far more mud and pollutants will wash into the bay.

Helfrich wants government and utility officials to remove the sediment behind the dam. But no one seems to want to take the lead in solving the problem.

Time is running out.

One man's crusade

· In our story "Muckraker: Riverkeeper's crusade to save Chesapeake Bay from sediment," learn more about Helfrich's involvement with the river and his proposed solutions.

Behind the muck

· Read "Where does the muck come from" to learn about York and Lancaster counties' role in the sediment problem at Conowingo.

Our opinion

· The Daily Record/Sunday News editorial, Take action on sediment, suggests that this problem can no longer be ignored.

Your opinion

· What do you think about the sediment stacking up at Conowingo and in the Chesapeake Bay? Talk about it on The Exchange, our community message board.