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More's Lake might return to its former glory after years of sitting filled with ash

COLUMBIA — At one time, More's Lake looked very different.

On hot summer days, families held picnics and swam along its eastern shore. Anglers cast their lines into the shallow waters in hopes of hooking a catfish or bass. At night, teenagers danced across a concrete island just above the lake's placid surface. 

More than a half million cubic feet of coal ash remains between More’s Lake and the Columbia Municipal Power Plant

More than a half-million cubic feet of coal ash remains between More’s Lake and the Columbia Municipal Power Plant on April 17. The ash, a byproduct of the coal burning process, is being excavated as the first part of an effort to make More’s Lake available to the public.

Undated aerial photographs show the growth of Columbia Municipal Power Plant and its ash pollution

Undated aerial photographs show not just the growth of the Columbia Municipal Power Plant, but also growth of ash pollution in nearby More's Lake. Water and Light superintendent Christian Johanningmeier says he thinks the photographs were probably taken by aerial photographers and sold to the power plant for novel purposes.

A coal burning boiler that was once essential to the power plant that provided energy to all of Columbia sits derelict

A coal-burning boiler that was once essential to the power plant that provided energy to all of Columbia sits derelict and covered in dust as Robert Redmond, left, and Frank DiCarlo modernize the control systems on April 17. The power plant switched from burning coal to natural gas two years ago as part of a transition to more viable fuels.

Lake cleanup underway

The city of Columbia has an ambitious plan to spend $7.8 million to restore More’s Lake near the Columbia Municipal Power Plant. About $1 million of that cost will cover the removal of 90,000 cubic yards of coal ash that the power plant dumped in the lake over the past several decades.

Frank DiCarlo and Robert Redmond run new wires through the halls of Columbia Municipal Power Plant

Behind an old control panel in a jungle of wires, Frank DiCarlo, left, and Robert Redmond run new wires April 17 through the halls of Columbia Municipal Power Plant that encase the obsolete coal burners. The boilers were shut off in 2015 when new regulations made coal fuel unviable.

  • Fall 2017 State Government reporter. I am a junior studying investigative journalism.

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