/Entergy to drain Lake Hico after closing power plant, JPS moving forward with development plans

Entergy to drain Lake Hico after closing power plant, JPS moving forward with development plans

Entergy, which leased the land for cooling purposes, has closed its power plant and is now draining the lake at Jackson Public School District’s request. The city received revenue from the company’s 16th Section lease of the lake. JPS will have the lake drained as it requires to be cleaned or remediated. Entergy will be testing the land over the next 12-18 months to make sure it meets environmental standards. According to Joseph Albright, the Chief Operations Officer of the district, JPS will continue to work with the Jackson Redevelopment Authority, the community, and other stakeholders on recreational opportunities that could be created once the lake has been remediated. This could bring in new revenue for the district. Albright stated that the 600-acre area in the middle city’s capital will be of benefit to more than the residents. Therefore, it is important to ensure everyone has an opportunity to participate in the redevelopment process. Albright said that there have been suggestions for new sports facilities, housing units and retail space. He also suggested rebuilding the lake for boating and fishing. Because of the potential for chemicals to be released from the power plant, the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality demands that the lake is tested regularly. After the lake has been completely drained, silt will be tested. The district informed Mississippi Today that if the results are higher than acceptable levels of chemicals it will have to be remediated or restored to its natural environment levels. Sherwin Johnson (executive director of public engagement) stated that Lake Hico’s original purpose was to cool Entergy’s power plants. “… Although the lake has not been used recently as a cooling pond, chemicals may still be present at levels that exceed state and Environmental Protection Agency standards for both water and sediment. These chemicals could also be ingested in fish that live in the lake.” The lake was built in the 1950s to supply cooling ponds for Entergy’s Rex Brown Steam Engine Station, Mississippi Power & Light Company. Entergy’s lease ended Oct. 31, this year, and was not renewed. Mara Hartman, Entergy’s Senior Communications Specialist, told Mississippi Today that the Rex Brown Steam Engine Station at 1960 W. Northside Drive, Jackson has come to an end. After nearly 71 years of continuous service, the last operating units were removed from the plant in June 2019.