Mount Holly, N.C. - The state made a major announcement this Friday. It granted Duke Energy a permit which will allow it to finish draining water from its coal ash ponds into Charlotte's main water source - Mountain Island Lake.
About a million people in Charlotte, Mecklenburg County, Mount Holly, and Gaston County get get their H2O from there.
Duke Energy has already been draining the top water. With the new permit, it can now pump out what's left at the bottom which is mixed in with the coal ash.
And that's got parents worried.
"The idea that they're going to put all that water into the river is nerve-racking. We don't know as lay people if they testing it as the water goes out," said Peter Stoffel, HOA president of a neighborhood near the plant.
Other neighbors agree.
"I’m not as concerned about the tap because we know it's tested, it's filtered. I'm more concerned about the lake. We go out on the lake and fish in the lake. My son loves to fish," said Dra Vaughn Jr.
Right now, Duke Energy says it tests the water leaving the coal ash ponds and going into the lake once a week. It also has a backup system in case toxic levels go up between testing.
"We have an automatic shut-off device so if any parameters are not met during the normal operations of the de-watering process, the machine will automatically shut-off and stop," said Catherine Butler with Duke Energy.
This gives folks a little peace of mind. Plus the Catawba Riverkeeper says the new permit demands more testing than before.
"The best thing about this is that there is more frequent monitoring in the permit and other provisions that are more protective of Mountain Island Lake, the Catawba River, and our region's drinking water," said Sam Perkins, Catawba Riverkeeper.
Perkins says the ponds should be empty within a matter of months. The permit goes into effect March 1st. The entire site is set to be completely cleaned up by 2019.