Feb 18, 2021

Monroe County, Georgia, Turns on Pipeline for Residents to Provide Water

Monroe County, Georgia, turned on a pipeline providing water to some residents who are wary of the impacts by coal ash from a nearby power plant.

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Monroe County, Georgia, has turned on a pipeline providing water to some residents who say their wells have been impacted by coal ash from a nearby power plant.

Monroe County commissioners gathered for the connection of the first phase of a $16.3 million project, reported The Sacramento Bee. This project will serve up to 850 homes in Juliette and surrounding areas, and the first phase will be completed in March, serving 374 homes.

Altamaha Riverkeeper has previously tested wells around Juliette and found chemicals which show contamination by toxic heavy metals from the coal ash pond at Georgia Power Co.'s Plant Scherer, reported The Sacramento Bee. 

Some Juliette residents have been using water that the county was trucking to a fire station in the meantime.

According to representatives of Georgia Power, the company’s 57 monitoring wells have no violations of federal drinking water standards. The unit of Southern Co. has been buying out residents in some areas near the plant, reported The Sacramento Bee.

There is no legal standard at either the Georgia or federal level for hexavalent chromium, according to GA Today. 

Georgia Power plans to close its 29 coal ash ponds statewide but will not bury the waste for all of them in lined landfills because, because according to them, the Plant Scherer ash pond can be capped in place without an unlined bottom.

According to Monroe County Commission Chairman Greg Tapley, the county might ask Georgia Power to pitch in for the water project after it could be proven without a shadow of a doubt the utility was at fault. 

In 2020, residents backed a pair of bills in the General Assembly aimed at changing how coal ash can be stored in the state, reported GA Today. 

Dozens of Juliette residents sued Georgia Power last year in 2020, claiming groundwater pollution. Georgia Power denied wrongdoing and a similar lawsuit over uranium levels in groundwater was voluntarily dismissed in 2014, reported GA Today.

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