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Monroe County spends nearly $23M to extend water services to town of Juliette

Monroe County's spokesman says by December, 900 more homes will have water.

MONROE COUNTY, Ga. — For years, water quality has been a problem for people in the town of Juliette.

People say the coal ash ponds around Georgia Power's Plant Scherer have caused high levels of toxins in Monroe County water.

Michael Pless lives about two miles from Plant Scherer and gets all of his water from a well.

He says in the past four years, his health has taken a shift.

"I ended up having a diagnosis of cancer in my throat. I have no idea if they are connected, but all of these things seem to coincided," says Pless

Since 2019, he says their well has been tested three times. Each time showing high levels of contamination and his household hasn't had access to clean water since but they make do. 

"We buy lots of bottled water to bring here. we use the water here for showering and bathing. but we find a variety of sources and build it into the rhythms of life," adds Pless

He's choosing not to let his situation steal his peace saying, "I find that there is probably a greater value to spend my energy and my time pouring into my grandchildren, and my wife, and my family and friends and the community, so that's where I put most of my focus and energy."

Adding, "Justice will prevail and the people that can make the decisions will make the decisions to do the right thing."

Monroe County has been working to extend their water services to the Juliette area since 2020 and county spokesman Richard Dumas says they have spent nearly $23 million to provide everyone with clean water.

"There's been a number of minor setbacks but were coming towards the conclusion of the project hopefully within the next several months  and hopefully almost 900 more homes will have water than when we started this," says Dumas.

Dumas says people in Juliette should remain patient and the project should be done by  December. 

"I just want those citizens to know that the commissioners are looking out for them and want this done isn't the best possible way and the most effective way."

He says there were a few private roads that aren't serviced by the county that residents may live, and these areas were put on hold. He says the commissioners are still discussing if they will be able to return to these areas at the end of the project. 

Dumas also says that if you haven't received a letter notifying you about connecting to the service, you should receive one within the next month. 

For years, Georgia Power has argued that Plant Scherer is not responsible for pollution or for neighbors' health problems.

They sent us this statement Wednesday:

"We are longtime members of this community; we live and raise our families here and take these allegations very seriously. Georgia power continues to stand firm behind its employees and the safe operations at Plant Scherer. As we have said consistently, the company believes the claims have no merit."

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