Support for Fish Protection and Thermal Discharge Program — Electric Power Research Institute
Under Section 316 of the Clean Water Act (CWA), the protection of fish species and aquatic communities is a primary focus of water intake and discharge permits for coal, oil, gas, and nuclear power plants as well as industrial facilities. Section 316(a) regulates heated and chlorinated cooling water discharges, whereas Section 316(b) covers entrainment through cooling water intake structures (CWIS) and impingement on intake screens. The Electric Power Research Institute’s (EPRI’s) Fish Protection Program aims to assist its members in managing their water resources to meet global requirements for fish protection while seeking to reduce costs for the electric power industry and customers. Tetra Tech supports key elements of this program, including the following:
Tetra Tech developed a web-based knowledge center, the Fish Protection Info Center, to assist EPRI in providing its membership with information on analytical tools, innovative mitigation technologies, and expert services to help environmental and power plant managers effectively manage water resources and protect aquatic communities in accordance with CWA section 316(b). The website contains comprehensive information on CWA Section 316(b), including an overview and history of 316(b) regulations, state activities, a summary of fish protection technologies, and links to references.
Tetra Tech developed a web-based knowledge center, eTherm, which contains information, documents, and links to resources to help users assess and manage their thermal discharges. Topics on eTherm include a national perspective on power plant cooling systems; information on guidance for 316(a) variances, legal and regulatory issues, and examples of demonstration studies; information on thermal discharge permits; links to each state’s thermal and water quality standards; references for EPRI products, papers and workshops; and a compilation of new developments related to thermal discharges, including recent actions related to plant thermal discharge permits and critical situations at plants that required reductions or shutdowns.
Approximately every 3 years, EPRI sponsors a workshop on Thermal Ecology and Regulation to facilitate communication of thermal ecological science to support permitting and regulatory decision making. Since the first workshop in 2003, Tetra Tech has supported EPRI in the planning, execution and reporting of the workshops. Tetra Tech has participated on the steering committee, which organized the agenda and identified and selected speakers for the conference. Tetra Tech also prepared and presented a paper on the latest updates in thermal ecology and regulation and prepared a summary paper on the thermal issues that are confronting utilities, how the utilities are addressing these issues, and future research needs in this area.