Public hearing set on wastewater permit set

February 18, 2017 GMT

Georgia Power has submitted its request for the reissuance of an existing permit to discharge wastewater from Plant Hammond into Smith Cabin Creek and the Coosa River.

The Georgia Environmental Protection Division will hold a public hearing at 7 p.m. on April 12 at the Rome-Floyd County ECO Center, in Ridge Ferry Park on Riverside Parkway, to receive comments about the draft National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit.

The permits are issued for a five-year period and are subject to specific pollutant limitations and special conditions.

Just last month, the Sierra Club, Altamaha Riverkeeper, Coosa River Basin Initiative and the Savannah River­keeper filed suit to compel the EPD to revise and update long-expired NPDES permits on all of Georgia’s coal plants, including Hammond.

The Coosa River was included on the Georgia Water Coalition’s Dirty Dozen list due to the threats related to superheated wastewater discharges from the power plant.

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“Georgia Power’s Plant Hammond is fully in compliance with all permits today, and will continue to be, while protecting the environment and delivering reliable and affordable energy for our customers,” said John Kraft, a company spokesman. “We are also supportive of EPD’s re-permitting efforts and look forward to reviewing the final draft permit.”

“We look forward to reviewing the draft and working to ensure that it is consistent with the Clean Water Act and that it includes strong protections for our waters and for the public health of Floyd County residents,” said Ian Karra, a spokesman for the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign.

The EPD notice indicates Georgia Power plans to return approximately 668.3-million gallons of wastewater per day via outfalls that go directly into the Coosa and one that goes into Smith Cabin Creek.

One of the issues CRBI has been most concerned about is the temperature of the wastewater discharge.

Conditions in the proposed permit include that at no time is the temperature of the receiving waters to be increased more than 5 degrees above intake temperature; except in estuarine waters — lowland wetlands in the area — where the increase must not be more than 1.5 degrees.

As part of the public hearing, people may also submit written comments by mail or email through April 14. Email comments should put “NPDES permit reissuance — Georgia Power Company — Plant Hammond (Floyd County)” in the subject line.

People who attend the hearing will be limited to three minutes to make their comments.

A fact sheet or copy of the draft permit is available by contacting Audra Dickson, of the Wastewater Regulatory Program, at 404-463-4934 or by email at audra.dickson@dnr.ga.gov.