Technical Q&A: Effluent Limitation Guidelines
Technical Q&A: Effluent Limitation Guidelines
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Technical Q&A: Effluent Limitation Guidelines
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While EPA issued its Effluent Limitations Guidelines and says these regulations will have minimal impact on most power plants, some modifications may still be required.

Q : How restrictive are the proposed effluent guidelines for power plants?

Tisha Scroggin, Burns & McDonnell

When the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency issued its proposed Effluent Limitation Guidelines in April, the EPA stated they would have minimal impact on a majority of power plants. Nonetheless, significant modifications might be required, especially at larger coal-fired units.

The proposal included eight options, four designated as preferred, for regulating seven wastewater streams. The final standards must be issued by May 2014 under a consent decree. Power plants will have three years to comply after their National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permits are renewed on a five-year rolling schedule.

Under the EPA's preferred options, all models will require zero discharge of fly ash transport water, and one of the four requires zero discharge of bottom ash transport water on units larger than 400 megawatts. Another wrinkle: Some vendors are stating they will not be able to guarantee achieving the new discharge limits with regard to flue gas desulfurization wastewater for all conditions.

The proposed guidelines include an anti-circumvention provision. Each regulated stream must meet the discharge limits before mixing with any stream or process that could lead to a surface water discharge.

The EPA is offering two incentive plans. For plants that agree to dewater, close and cap all ponds containing coal combustion residuals, the agency will grant a two-year permit delay. For those who implement zero liquid discharge for all but cooling water needs on-site, it will grant a five-year delay.

Burns & McDonnell not only has experience with all of the technologies referenced under the EPA's proposal options, but also performs water balance optimizations that result in smaller, less expensive wastewater treatment systems.

For more information, contact Tisha Scroggin, 816-822-3097.

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