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CWA 316(b) Thermal Discharges-Cooling Water Intake Structures

Ocean Standards - CWA §316(b) Regulation

COOLING WATER INTAKE STRUCTURES
once-through cooling

The State Water Resources Control Board (State Water Board) implements the Federal Clean Water Act §316(b) regulations on cooling water intake structures. Control and/or mitigation of entrainment and impingement of marine life related to power generating facility intake structures is paramount.

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Please see the information below.

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Public Meetings

None at this time.

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The Once-Through Cooling Water Policy

On May 4, 2010 the State Water Board adopted a Policy on the Use of Coastal and Estuarine Waters for Power Plant Cooling (Policy). The administrative record for the Policy was approved by the Office of Administrative Law (OAL) on September 27, 2010. The Policy became effective on October 1, 2010 when the California Environmental Quality Act Notice of Decision was submitted to the Secretary of Resources.

The Policy establishes technology-based standards to implement federal Clean Water Act section 316(b) and reduce the harmful effects associated with cooling water intake structures on marine and estuarine life. The Policy applies to the 19 existing power plants (including two nuclear plants) that currently have the ability to withdraw over 15 billion gallons per day from the State’s coastal and estuarine waters using a single-pass system, also known as once-through cooling (OTC). Closed-cycle wet cooling has been selected as Best Technology Available (BTA). Permittees must either reduce intake flow and velocity (Track 1) or reduce impacts to aquatic life comparably by other means (Track 2).

The Policy is implemented through an adaptive management strategy by which the standards can be achieved without disrupting the critical needs of the State’s electrical generation and transmission system. A Statewide Advisory Committee on Cooling Water Intake Structures (SACCWIS) has been established to review implementation plans and schedules and provide recommendations to the State Water Board at least annually. The State Water Board will consider SACCWIS’s recommendations and make modifications to the Policy, as appropriate. The permittees’ NPDES permits will be reissued or modified to conform with the Policy.

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Other Relevant Documents

Committees

The two committees listed below, were convened by the Executive Directory of the State Water board, as required by the Policy. The committees are subject to the Bagley-Keene Open Meeting Act

Statewide Advisory Committee on Cooling Water Intake Structures (SACCWIS)
SACCWIS was established to advise the State Water Board on the implementation of this Policy to ensure that implementation plans and schedules established by the Policy are realistic and will not cause disruption to the State’s electrical power supply.  SACCWIS includes representatives from the California Energy Commission, California Public Utilities Commission, California Coastal Commission, California State Lands Commission, California Air Resources Board, California Independent System Operator, and the State Water Board. 

Review Committee for Nuclear Fueled Power Plants
The Review Committee was established to oversee the special studies, which will investigate ability, alternatives, and cost for two nuclear-fueled power plants to meet the Policy requirements.  The special studies will be conducted by an independent third party with engineering experience with nuclear power plants, selected by the Executive Director of the State Water Board, and paid for by the two nuclear-fueled power plants subject to the Policy.  The Review Committee includes representatives from the SACCWIS agencies, the nuclear power companies, the environmental community, and staffs of the State Water Board and appropriate Regional Water Boards.

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Permitting of Affected Power Plants

The policy is implemented through NPDES permits.  The State Water Board will reissue or, as appropriate, modify NPDES permits issued to owners or operators of existing power plants, after a hearing in the affected region, to ensure that the permits conform to the provisions of the Policy. The State Water Board will reopen, if necessary, the relevant permits and modify the final compliance schedules, if appropriate, based on modifications to the policy approved by the State Water Board or the suspension of final compliance dates.  »»   Get more information …

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