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Water: Cooling Water Intakes (316b)

Cooling Water Intakes Structures—CWA §316(b)

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Section 316(b) of the Clean Water Act requires that the location, design, construction and capacity of cooling water intake structures reflect the best technology available for minimizing adverse environmental impact. Additional basic information about EPA's cooling intake regulations.

Modified Settlement Agreement for Final Regulations

EPA and Riverkeeper have agreed that EPA will finalize the cooling water intake rule by April 17, 2014.

Notices of Data Availability for Proposed Regulations

EPA issued two Notices of Data Availability (NODA) in mid-June that described flexibilities EPA is considering as part of the impingement mortality limitations and that described the preliminary results of surveys of households’ willingness to pay for incremental reductions in fish mortality.

Notice of Data Availability Related to Impingement Mortality Control Requirements

Through the NODA published on June 11, 2012 EPA presented new data and information it received and collected since the proposed rule was published related to the performance of impingement mortality control technologies. This information was posted in the Federal Register to present a summary of significant data EPA has received or collected since publishing our April 20, 2011 proposed rule, a discussion of how EPA is considering incorporating these data in revised analyses supporting the final rule, and a discussion of possible revisions to the final rule that EPA is considering that were suggested by the comments.

Since proposal EPA has received and collected new data related to the performance of impingement mortality control technologies. EPA obtained more than 80 studies from comments on the proposed rule, and in follow-up to comments, that provided additional biological data. This data includes information related to how EPA might approach the definition of impingement mortality and compliance alternatives.

The comment period on this notice of data availability related to impingement mortality control requirements for proposed regulations to establish requirements for cooling water intake structures closed on July 11, 2012.

Notice of Data Availability Related to the EPA Stated Preference Survey

Through the NODA published on June 12, 2012 EPA presented additional new data and information it received and collected since the proposed rule was published related to the results of EPA’s stated preference survey.

As part of the proposed rule, EPA indicated it was in the process of developing a stated preference survey to estimate total willingness to pay (WTP) for improvements to fishery resources affected by in-scope 316(b) facilities. This notice, together with supporting material available at the link below, presents the new data and preliminary analysis currently available from the stated preference survey results. Upon completion of the analysis and independent peer review, EPA will post the updated results on this page. 

The comment period on this notice of data availability related to EPA’s stated preference survey for proposed regulations to establish requirements for cooling water intake structures closed on July 12, 2012.

EPA has reviewed public comments on the NODA, has obtained an external peer review of the complete results of the Survey, and, to obtain further independent professional judgment concerning the Survey and suggestions for possible future improvements to the Survey, has decided to seek a review of the Survey and its results by the EPA Science Advisory Board.

Proposed Rule for Existing Facilities

The comment period closed on August 18, 2011 instead of July 19, 2011. The revised date was announced in the Federal Register on July 20, 2011.

Federal Register Notice | Print Version (PDF) (2 pp, 188K) (July 20, 2011)

EPA proposed, and requested comment on, requirements under section 316(b) of the Clean Water Act for all existing power generating facilities and existing manufacturing and industrial facilities.

Settlement Agreement

In November 2010, EPA signed a Settlement Agreement with Riverkeeper (PDF) (25 pp, 185K) regarding rulemaking dates for EPA to set technology standards for cooling water intake structures for existing facilities under Clean Water Act Section 316(b). EPA agreed to propose standards by March 14, 2011, and after considering public comments, to take final action by July 27, 2012.

On March 11, 2011, the parties agreed to an amendment (PDF) (3 pp, 730K) to the settlement agreement to extend the date for the proposed rule. The revised date is March 28, 2011.

On July 17, 2012, the parties agreed to an amendment (PDF) (3 pp, 111K) to the settlement agreement to extend the date for the final rule. EPA agreed to finalize standards by June 27, 2013.

On June 27, 2013, the parties agreed to a modified settlement agreement (PDF) (3 pp, 17MB) to extend the date for the final rule. EPA agreed to finalize standards by November 4, 2013.

On February 10, 2014, the parties agreed to a modified settlement agreement (PDF) (3 pp, 25K) to extend the date for the final rule. EPA agreed to finalize standards by April 17, 2014

Willingness to Pay Survey for Benefits Assessment 

OMB approved the Information Collection Request (ICR) for a national stated preference survey that could inform the benefits analysis for the upcoming final regulation of cooling water intake structures at facilities such as power plants. The OMB Control Number is 2040-0283.  Additional information on OMB's Notice of Action and the ICR Supporting Statement.

Suspension of Phase II Rule

EPA is suspending the Cooling Water Intake Structure Regulations for existing large power plants. This suspension is in response to the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals decision in Riverkeeper, Inc., v. EPA.

Federal Register Notice (July 09, 2007) | Implementation Memo (PDF) (1 pg, 72K; March 20, 2007)

There are three rulemaking phases:

Related Clean Water Act Program: Sec. 402, National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES)


Note: EPA no longer updates this information, but it may be useful as a reference or resource.


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