In late September the EPA announced the first national limits on levels of toxic metals in wastewater that can be discharged from power plants.
The EPA says the Steam Electric Effluent Limitation Guidelines will reduce the discharge of toxic pollutants into America’s waterways from steam electric power plants by 1.4 billion pounds annually, as well as reduce water withdrawal by 57 billion gallons per year.
The new report from Bluefield research analyzes key power sector trends, including discharge regulations, fuel-switching and water supply risks, that are impacting investments in water and wastewater treatments.
As the largest user of water and contributor to surface water pollution, the US thermal power plants, coal-fired facilities in particular, are facing significant regulatory scrutiny. Bluefield identified 206 facilities in coal-rich, Mid-Atlantic and Midwestern states that are a central focus for EPA policymakers.
The Steam Electric Power Generating Effluent Guidelines lays the groundwork for water system upgrades to coal-fired electric power plants with capacities over 50 MW, the report says. The lion’s share of this spend, reaching $2.4 million through 2025, will occur between 2019 and 2023 during National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit renewals. CAPEX for these retrofits could scale to $7.5 billion by 2042.