Article | July 7, 2014

Cooling Water Intake Decisions Are Heating Up

Jim Lauria

By Jim Lauria

Careful choices for 316(b) compliance can save millions of dollars

The objective of the 316(b) rule is to reduce the impingement or entrainment of aquatic organisms in cooling water intakes—keeping fish, crustaceans, mammals, sea turtles, larvae, eggs and other organisms from getting drawn into the cooling water system or trapped against the screen.  In short, compliance is built around creating an intake gentle enough to allow fish and other aquatic life to float on by, escape the inflow current, or be effectively excluded from or removed from the intake systems.

According to EPA, there are 1,065 facilities required to comply with 316(b) because they utilize at least 2 million gallons per day (GPD) of cooling water.  Compliance with the rule will be required at each affected plant when its NPDES permit is up for renewal.  About 40 percent of those facilities—about half of which are power plants and half are manufacturing facilities—already comply.