316(b) Applications: Thoughts from a Regulator on Study Plans

Thursday, August 25, 2016: 10:20 AM
Chouteau A (Sheraton at Crown Center)
Sean Ramach , Water Permits Division, Industrial Branch, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Washington, DC
Section 316(b) of the Clean Water Act requires that National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permits for facilities with cooling water intake structures ensure that the location, design, construction, and capacity of the structures reflect the best technology available to minimize harmful impacts on the environment. The withdrawal of cooling water by facilities removes billions of aquatic organisms from waters of the United States each year, including fish, larvae and eggs, crustaceans, shellfish, sea turtles, marine mammals and other aquatic life. 

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a final rule implementing §316(b) of the Clean Water Act for Existing Facilities on August 15, 2014. This regulatory action affects over 1,000 facilities (power plants, pulp and paper mills, iron mills, chemical plants, oil & gas facilities) throughout the U.S. that use cooling water. Industries, federal and state regulatory and resource agencies, non-governmental organizations and the public are now faced with the challenge of implementing this rule.

This presentation will provide an overview of EPA's experiences with permitting authorities and permittees in developing the plans to collect the information, both biological and technological, that is necessary to address the application requirements of the rule.