A judge has rejected two water permits issued by Georgia’s Environmental Protection Division for a proposed coal fired power plant in Washington County.
Administrative Law Judge Ronit Walker says one permit didn’t follow correct guidelines for interbasin transfers--the act of moving water from one river basin to another.
It would have allowed the plant’s operating company Power4Georgians to withdraw more than 13 million gallons a day from the Oconee and return only 11 percent of it back to the river.
The judge says transferring that much water requires a public notice and a series of EPD studies.
Brian Gist is an attorney with The Southern Environmental Law Center.
"Ninety percent of that water taken out would not be coming back to the Oconee River and across the state you look at what some of the biggest water consumers are and they are electrical generation," Gist says. "So I think we need to take a very careful look at whether management of Georgia’s waters would require us to meet our electrical needs some other way."
The judge also ruled that pollution has to be monitored at the location water re-enters the river instead of from inside the power plant
The decision comes as Georgia battles a tristate water war with Florida and Alabama over shared water resources.
Power4Georgians has 30 days to appeal.