Use of Alternate Water Sources for Power Plant Cooling — Electric Power Research Institute

With increasing competition for good quality water resources and restrictions on withdrawals from natural water bodies and aquifers, it is becoming more commonplace for electric utilities to evaluate alternate water sources for cooling power plants. This study considered the use of alternate, degraded or non-potable water sources for use in power plant cooling. The alternate sources considered include reclaimed municipal wastewater, agricultural drainage, saline groundwater, and oil and gas produced water, and in more limited instances, water from mine drainage or from other industrial processes. In most cases these waters are degraded through human use, or are naturally unfit for use in municipal water supply. The use of these alternate sources raises new issues not normally considered when traditional surface water or groundwater sources are used. These include the need for additional treatment, the need for transportation of source water over significant distances, additional constraints on discharge of cooling tower blowdown, and regulatory requirements specific to degraded waters. This study prepared a guideline document to identify whether a given region has adequate supplies of degraded water, the treatment requirements to make this water acceptable for use in power plant cooling, the approximate costs of moving the water source to the point of use, additional regulatory constraints on the use of these waters, and related cost and contractual issues.


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