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EPA and Office of Water logo Fact Sheet

    United States
    Environmental Protection
    Office of Water
    July 2000

    Proposed Rule for the Location, Design Construction and Capacity Standards for Cooling Water Intake Structures at New Facilities


This proposal is intended to protect fish and other aquatic organisms from being killed or injured by cooling water intake structures used by industries. It will establish new requirements to protect the most biologically sensitive areas, including tidal rivers and estuaries, and will establish minimum standards for cooling water intake structures at new facilities. Section 316(b) of the Clean Water Act (CWA) directs EPA to assure that the location, design, construction, and capacity of cooling water intake structures reflect the best technology available for minimizing adverse environmental impact. The proposed rule would apply to new facilities that use large amounts of cooling water, primarily facilities in these industries: steam electric power generation, pulp and paper making, chemical manufacturing, petroleum refining, and primary metals manufacturing (including iron and steel making and aluminum manufacturing).


In 1976, the Agency published a final regulation implementing CWA section 316(b). However, industry groups challenged the regulation, and the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit Court remanded it for procedural errors in 1977. In 1995, EPA entered into a consent decree with the Riverkeeper and a coalition of other individuals and environmental groups and committed to complete a section 316(b) rule by August, 2001. The Court Order now in effect requires EPA to propose this regulation for new facilities by July 20, 2000, and propose a regulation for existing facilities by July 20, 2001.

Costs and Environmental Benefits

EPA believes that this proposal would affect no more than 98 facilities over the next twenty years and would have an annual compliance cost of $12 million. EPA does not anticipate increases in household energy costs as a result of this rulemaking.

Today’s proposal would set requirements to help preserve ecosystems near cooling water intake structures at new facilities. Expected benefits include a significant decrease in death or injury to aquatic organisms that would otherwise be drawn into cooling water systems or pinned against structure components at the entrance of cooling water intakes.

Additional Information:

You can get additional technical information by calling Deborah G. Nagle at (202) 260-2656 or James T. Morgan at (202) 260-6015. For additional economic information, contact Lynne Tudor at (202) 260-5834 You can also send inquiries by E-mail to or visit our internet website at