Planning for Reuse at Former Ash Basins
One of Kleinschmidt’s clients is retiring 16 coal ash basin sites in the Southeastern United States and was seeking to identify ways to beneficially reuse the properties post-decommissioning and recognize the potential for habitat restoration to benefit the public.
The client retained Kleinschmidt to review all 16 coal ash basin locations to determine potential future opportunities for the properties. Kleinschmidt developed a GIS to catalogue and review existing project resources including wetlands, soil types, rare species and habitat, historical and cultural resources, slope, elevation, and closure plans to identify and rank sites for potential habitat improvement projects and suitability for potential public outreach and recreation. Kleinschmidt used the
information gathered from the client’s feasibility team to identify projects with the least potential for generation redevelopment (or other planned project uses) likely to conflict with restoration of habitat and public recreation. Nine of the original 16
sites were eliminated during the desktop review and refined further to four sites based on consultation with their feasibility team. Kleinschmidt completed a field assessment of the four sites to better understand any existing limitations or benefits not identified in the desktop analysis and to assess current conditions as the basis for conceptual designs. Kleinschmidt prepared four conceptual designs and presented these concepts to the feasibility team. We will be consulting with the permitting agencies to evaluate their receptiveness to changes in the ash basin closure plans and providing resource agency consultation to evaluate feasibility to create wetland, stream, forested, and pollinator habitat at each project site.
Kleinschmidt’s ability to organize a diverse team of our client’s experts and consolidate their ideas to make a data-informed decision allowed them to make educated and confident decisions to go forward on four conceptual designs. The conceptual designs developed include several unique habitat types such as cypress-gum bottomland forests. We also worked with our client to consider trends in habitat restoration and improvements such as inclusion of pollinator habitat, which is a national restoration and enhancement priority.