Okatibbee Lake is fed by streams receiving water from several permitted discharges from Kemper The Kemper IGCC (lignite gasification) power plant will use Meridian’s treated municipal sewage water to make steam for the turbines that produce electricity. That water becomes property of Mississippi Power when the company purchases it from Meridian and pumps it 41 miles to an 85-acre holding reservoir at the power plant. MDEQ’s view is that the municipal gray-water in the pipeline ceases to be "water of the state" when the company buys it from the city. GRN has submitted comments on the permit that question the treatment standards that MDEQ is requiring for water in the reservoir.
The holding water reservoir can discharge to nearby Chickasawhay Creek in emergencies. During construction over the last two years, the reservoir has already discharged to this nearby creek that feeds Okatibbee Reservoir. Declaring these waters not to be state waters because they are the subject of a purchase contract is a convenient sleight of hand by MDEQ. Discharges have already occurred in non-emergency settings during plant construction. Discharges are to nearby waterways which are certainly "waters of the state." We continue to ask for proof that this water won’t be harmful to release. Discharges can happen during extreme rainfall - tropical storms or hurricanes - or during plant shutdowns. Local streams and Okatibbee Reservoir deserve better protection from MDEQ .
When preparing these comments, GRN also consulted the Pat Harrison Waterway District – another state agency- that manages Okatibbee Lake. That agency was relatively unconcerned about the quality of the water the lake could receive from Chickasawhay Creek upstream that feeds into their recreational lake.