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Georgia Power continues progress on ash pond closure at Plant Scherer with dewatering process set to begin in March

Georgia Power continues to make progress towards the closure of the ash pond at Plant Scherer with the dewatering process scheduled to begin in March 2024. Dewatering marks a significant step in the closure process, and Georgia Power’s ash pond closure plan for Plant Scherer is specifically designed for the site to help ensure water quality is protected now and in the future.

“As we begin the dewatering process at Plant Scherer, we are focused on safety and meeting all requirements throughout the process to fulfill our longstanding commitment to protect the environment, our local communities and water quality every step of the way,” said Jennifer McNelly, vice president of Environmental Affairs for Georgia Power. “The dedicated team at Plant Scherer has helped deliver safe and reliable energy for Georgians for decades and, as the ash pond closure process moves forward, we will maintain clear communication with our neighbors, customers and the community about our progress.”

The ash pond dewatering plan for Plant Scherer has been approved by the Georgia Environmental Protection Division (EPD) and describes the water treatment system, controls and monitoring that will be used during the process to help ensure that the water discharged is protective of water quality standards. The planned onsite closure methods are being permitted and regulated by the EPD.

Communication regarding the closure plan is provided through EPD permitting notifications as well as posting on Georgia Power’s website. To read more about Plant Scherer’s ash pond closure and dewatering process, click here.

Protecting Surface Water Quality – Dewatering Explained

The dewatering process is currently underway at six sites – Plants Bowen, Branch, Hammond, McDonough, Mitchell and Yates. Dewatering is the process of removing water from an ash pond in preparation for and during closure. A specially built, onsite water treatment system designed to protect water quality is an integral part of the dewatering process, as is the three-part water testing process, which includes:

  1. Continuous, real-time monitoring of the water as it is being treated. To ensure the treatment facility is operating effectively, water is tested as it moves through the system. Safeguards in place include automatic shutoff so water is retreated until testing shows it meets or is better than water quality standards.
  2. Weekly testing by third-party experts. Discharge water will additionally be tested on a weekly basis. The samples, collected by a third-party contractor, are tested by a third-party, accredited laboratory. The results of these tests will be provided to EPD as required and posted monthly on Georgia Power’s website.
  3. Receiving Stream Testing. Water samples will be taken from the receiving stream and tested twice per month upstream and downstream of the discharge point. These samples will also be collected by third-party contractors and sent to a third-party accredited laboratory for testing. The test results will be reported to EPD and made available on Georgia Power’s website.

Protecting Groundwater Quality

Since 2016, Georgia Power has installed more than 600 groundwater monitoring wells around its ash ponds and onsite landfills to actively monitor groundwater quality to help ensure the company is being protective of lakes, rivers and drinking water. In 2023 alone, there were 1,739 groundwater samples collected and 73 groundwater reports completed. At Plant Scherer alone, there are 94 well locations around the ash pond and landfill.

Third-party professional engineers and geologists direct the appropriate placement of monitoring wells for Georgia Power based on site-specific geology. Independent, third-party professionals perform sampling, with analysis by accredited, independent laboratories. Monitoring is being conducted in compliance with federal and state laws and regulations.