Jump to main content or area navigation.

Contact Us

Water: Steam Electric

Steam Electric Power Generating Effluent Guidelines

Photo of a power plant

Proposed Rule (June 2013)

EPA promulgated the Steam Electric Power Generating effluent guidelines and standards (40 CFR Part 423) in 1974, and amended the regulation in 1977, 1978, 1980 and 1982. The regulation covers wastewater discharges from power plants operating as utilities.  The Agency is currently developing revisions to the regulation.  The Steam Electric effluent guidelines and standards are incorporated into NPDES permits.

You will need Adobe Reader to view some of the files on this page. See EPA's PDF page to learn more.

What is Steam Electric Power Generating?

Steam electric plants use nuclear or fossil fuels (such as coal, oil and natural gas) to heat water in boilers, which generates steam. The steam is used to drive turbines connected to electric generators. The plants generate wastewater in the form of chemical pollutants and thermal pollution (heated water) from their water treatment, power cycle, ash handling and air pollution control systems, as well as from coal piles, yard and floor drainage, and other miscellaneous wastes.

These activities are included within the following North American Industrial Classification System (NAICS) codes:

  • 221112 – Fossil Fuel Electric Power Generation
  • 221113 – Nuclear Electric Power Generation
Note: the NAICS group listings are provided as a guide and do not define the coverage of the Steam Electric regulations. For precise definitions of coverage, see the applicability sections in 40 CFR Part 423.

Facilities Covered

The Steam Electric Power Generating effluent guidelines apply to a major portion of the electric power industry.  These are plants primarily engaged in the generation of electricity for distribution and sale which results primarily from a process utilizing fossil-type fuel or nuclear fuel in conjunction with a thermal cycle employing the steam water system as the thermodynamic medium. There are approximately 1,100 of these facilities located throughout the United States.


EPA issued a proposed rule in April 2013 to amend the Steam Electric effluent guidelines and standards.

Background Documents

Rulemaking History

Additional Information

For additional information regarding Steam Electric Power Generating effluent guidelines, please contact Ron Jordan (jordan.ronald@epa.gov) or 202-566-1003.

Top of Page

Jump to main content.