By Sharon O. Jacobs

On May 19, 2014, the U.S. EPA released the final regulation to the Clean Water Act that follows through on a settlement agreement where they agreed to issue regulations aimed at reducing injury and death to fish and aquatic life caused by cooling water systems at large power plants and factories. Section 316(b) of the Clean Water Act requires National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permits for facilities with cooling water intake structures to ensure that the location, design, construction and capacity of the structures reflect the best technology available to minimize harmful impacts to the environment. The rule applies to facilities that use cooling water intake structures and have or require an NPDES permit.

Many industrial sectors are affected (see the definitions in 40 CFR 125.81, 125.91 and 125.131). The new rule covers roughly 1,065 existing facilities that are designed to withdraw at least 2 million gallons per day of cooling water. EPA estimates that 521 of these facilities are factories, and the other 544 are power plants.

For more detailed information regarding the new Section 316(b) Clean Water Act rule, visit the Federal Register website.