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Public hearing set for Duke water permits

The North Carolina Division of Water Quality plans to hold a public hearing from 7 to 9 p.m. today to discuss water-discharge permits for Duke Energy Corp.’s three coal-fired power plants along the Catawba River.

The hearing on the permits, which are in draft form, will be held at Charles Mack Citizen Center in Mooresville. Duke is seeking renewal of the permits.

These plants are Marshall Steam Station on Lake Norman, Riverbend Steam Station on Mountain Island Lake and Allen Steam Station on Lake Wylie. The permits involve the discharging of water from cooling-water systems, coal ash ponds and yard sump overflows.

But the Catawba Riverkeeper Foundation, the Central Piedmont chapter of the Sierra Club and Clean Water for North Carolina are asking for greater regulation of thermal pollution and heavy metal discharge into the Catawba River, the source of 80 percent of the drinking water in Charlotte and Mecklenburg County, according to a press release from the three organizations.

Catawba Riverkeeper David Merryman said in a press release that the power plants use billions of gallons of water each day to cool their systems and heat lakes.

The environmental groups are requesting that the new permits include requirements to regulate the concentrations of heavy metals discharged in coal ash waste, phase out existing coal ash ponds, develop drinking water contingency plans in case of ash pond failures and reduce the impacts of thermal pollution from the three facilities.

The North Carolina Environmental Management Commission proposes to reissue Duke’s permits for the three facilities but with “specific pollutant limitations” and site-by-site limitations.

In addition to attending the hearing, the public can submit comments via e-mail through today to sergei.chernikov@ncdenr.gov.

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