Groundwater Monitoring & Information
Georgia Power's Ash Pond Closure Process
Georgia Power is permanently closing its 29 ash ponds at 11 coal-fired power plants across the state. In 2016, the company committed that all ash ponds will stop receiving coal ash within three years and the significant construction work necessary to accommodate the dry-handling of ash at applicable plants is expected to be completed by 2019.Ash Pond Closures Update
Ash pond closures are site-specific and balance multiple factors such as pond size, location, geology, and amount of material; and each closure will be certified by a team of independent, professional engineers.
Closure by Removal
The company is completely removing the ash from 17 ponds located adjacent to lakes or rivers where advanced engineering methods, such as the installation of impermeable concrete barriers designed to enhance the protection of groundwater around the closed pond, may not be feasible. The ash from these ponds will either be relocated to a permitted landfill, consolidated with other closing ash ponds or recycled for beneficial use. More than 50 percent of the coal ash Georgia Power produces today is recycled for various uses such as Portland cement, concrete and cinder blocks.
Ash Pond Dewatering
As Georgia Power closes its ash ponds, water in the ponds must be removed so the ash pond can either be excavated or closed in place using advanced engineering methods and technologies. In some cases, the water may be re-used in plant processes while in other cases, it will be treated before being discharged. This treatment and removal activity is known as "dewatering." Throughout the dewatering process, the company is going above and beyond what is required by its National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permits, as well as the federal Coal Combustion Residuals Rule and the Effluent Limitations Guidelines Rule.
Before Georgia Power dewaters any ash pond, the company provides advance notice to the Georgia Environmental Protection Division (EPD). Additionally, the company prepares and submits an "ash pond dewatering plan" to EPD for its approval. That plan identifies the enhanced water treatment system, controls and monitoring that will be used during the process to ensure that the water discharged is protective of water quality standards.
Learn how we are protecting the environment by closing and removing water from ash ponds at our coal-fired power plants across the state.
Dewatering Testing Results
Georgia Power is actively sampling and testing the treated water in accordance with its EPD-approved dewatering plans. Independent third party contractors are conducting the work with samples being analyzed by accredited independent laboratories for 22 parameters.
All data is being reported to the Georgia EPD and test results available to-date are posted on this site. Water discharge results are currently being posted for Plant McDonough-Atkinson and Plant McManus. These results show that permit limits are being met, and discharge levels for all parameters indicate water quality is being protected.
To communicate its water discharge results with the public, Georgia Power has provided tables that summarize individual rounds of testing at each plant. Detailed footnotes are included to clearly explain the results contained in the tables.
As part of the ash pond closure process, Georgia Power has installed approximately 500 groundwater monitoring wells around all 29 ash ponds and landfills to assess groundwater conditions at each plant. These groundwater wells will continue to be monitored around our ponds and landfills even after the ash ponds are permanently closed.
Groundwater monitoring is being conducted in compliance with federal and state regulations. Groundwater is being sampled by independent third-party contractors and analyzed by accredited independent laboratories for 20 substances.
Georgia Power is currently in the process of completing a total of at least eight rounds of background groundwater monitoring at each plant. To date, Georgia Power has completed eight background monitoring events at certain landfills and ash ponds at Plants Bowen, Hammond, McIntosh, Scherer, Wansley and Yates. Annual Groundwater Monitoring and Corrective Action Reports summarizing this groundwater data will be completed by January 31, 2018, submitted to the EPD, and posted to this website by March 2, 2018 for these facilities. Additionally, Georgia Power has continued to make progress on background monitoring events for ash ponds at Plants Branch, Hammond, McDonough, McManus, Mitchell, and Yates and will continue background monitoring in compliance with federal and state regulations for these facilities.
Groundwater Testing Results
- From the tables summarizing individual rounds of testing completed to date at each ash pond, 209 out of 250 wells have been found to meet the state's primary drinking water standards. One or more constituents above the state's primary drinking water standards were detected in at least one testing event in a total of 41 wells at 9 plants. The Company and third party consultants are continuing to evaluate all testing results to date.
- To communicate its groundwater testing results with the public, Georgia Power has posted tables on this website that summarize individual rounds of testing for monitoring wells at each plant. Detailed footnotes are included to clearly explain the results contained in the tables.