Mountain Island Lake, A Source of Charlotte’s Drinking Water,  Receives Water from Power Plants’ Settling Ponds

Mountain Island Lake in North Carolina is being fed by pond runoff that has several times the amount of arsenic allowed in drinking water.  The lake was already under a state advisory imposed in 2011 because fish from the lake were found to be contaminated by chemicals called PCBs.  The PCBs are not linked to coal ash, which is seen as the source of the arsenic.
Water flowing into the lake from the Riverbend power plant’s ash ponds had arsenic concentrations up to nine times higher than the federal drinking water standard, according to a study published in the Journal of Environmental Science and Technology.

Charlotte, NC draws drinking water from the lake, but there is no indication that the city’s drinking water is contaminated.

The study reported ash contaminants downstream of coal-fired power plant ash settling ponds in the 11 lakes and rivers sampled. Concentrations tended to be highest in small bodies of water, such as 2,914-acre Mountain Island Lake.

The coal burning plants  have to sample their discharges for arsenic, mercury and selenium, but don’t have fixed limits on those elements. This means that power plant owners don’t have to take action if they see high readings.

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