A decade after pulling the plug on a huge, problem-ridden working model of the Chesapeake Bay, the federal government is giving the abandoned facility and its 55-acre Kent Island site back to the state of Maryland.
The state Board of Public Works voted yesterday to accept the property near Matapeake, which Maryland sold to the Army Corps of Engineers for $10 in 1970. The corps spent $30 million to build a concrete hydraulic model of the bay in a mammoth 14-acre warehouse there and to run it for six years.
Once billed as "the most significant environmental tool on the East Coast," the model was used to study how the bay's waters circulate. But the ersatz estuary was hampered by falling insulation and heaving floors, and scientists differ on how useful it was in understanding the bay's pollution problems. The physical model of the bay was supplanted by more sophisticated computer simulations.