Ocean Standards - CWA §316(b) Regulation
- Official Policy Documentation
- Public Meetings
- Interim Mitigation Measures
- Other Relevant Documents
- Power Plants That Are Affected
- General Energy Company Correspondence
- Questions or Comments
- Once Through Cooling Fact Sheet
Cooling Water Intake Structures
On May 4, 2010, the State Water Resources Control Board (State Water Board) adopted a Policy on the Use of Coastal and Estuarine Waters for Power Plant Cooling (Once-Through Cooling or OTC Policy). The OTC Policy became effective on October 1, 2010, and the last amendment became effective on November 30, 2020.
The OTC Policy establishes technology-based standards to implement federal Clean Water Act section 316(b) and reduce the harmful effects associated with cooling water intake structures for power generating facilities on marine and estuarine life. The OTC Policy applied to 19 existing power plants (including two nuclear plants) with the combined ability to withdraw almost 16 billion gallons of water per day from the state’s coastal and estuarine waters using a single-pass system, also known as once-through cooling (OTC). Closed-cycle wet cooling has been selected as Best Technology Available (BTA). Permittees must either reduce intake flow and velocity (Track 1) or reduce impacts to aquatic life comparably by other means (Track 2).
Ten plants have ceased their once-through cooling operations. Eight of the remaining plants have informed the State Water Board that they are planning to comply by retiring their existing OTC plants’ equipment. In some cases, plants will repower their locations with modern non-water-cooled systems. Dynegy’s Moss Landing Power Plant is the only OTC plant that is complying with the OTC Policy through Track 2.
Once-Through Cooling Policy – Current Version – Effective December 23, 2021
» Go to the Official Policy Documentation
Notice of Document Availability, Opportunity for Public Comment, and Public Hearing
On January 31, 2023, the State Water Board released for public comment the Draft Amendment to the Once-Through Cooling Policy to Extend the Compliance Schedules for Alamitos, Huntington Beach, Ormond Beach, and Scattergood Generating Stations, and Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant, as well as the associated Draft Staff Report. Written comments must be submitted by noon on March 17, 2023.
The State Water Board will also hold a public hearing to receive oral comments on the proposed Once-Through Cooling Policy Amendment and Draft Staff Report. The public hearing will be held on March 7, 2023.
For additional details on the proposed amendment, public comments, or the public hearing, please see the notice.
RELEASE OF 2020-2021 INTERIM MITIGATION DETERMINATIONS
The State Water Board’s Statewide Water Quality Control Policy on the Use of Coastal and Estuarine Waters for Power Plant Cooling (OTC Policy) requires owners and operators of existing power plants to implement measures to mitigate interim impingement and entrainment impacts resulting from their cooling water intake structures, starting October 1, 2015 and continuing up to and until owners or operators achieve final compliance with the OTC Policy. The invoice letters and final determinations for the 2020-2021 interim mitigation period for Alamitos, Harbor, Haynes, Huntington Beach, Ormond Beach, Redondo Beach, and Scattergood generating stations, and Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant are available on the Interim Mitigation Measures webpage.
Public Hearing on the Proposed Amendment to the Once-Through Cooling Policy to Extend the Compliance Schedules for Alamitos, Huntington Beach, Ormond Beach, and Scattergood Generating Stations, and Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant
The State Water Board will hold a public hearing to receive oral comments on the proposed amendment to the Once-Through Cooling Policy and associated Draft Staff Report. The public hearing will be held as follows:
Tuesday, March 7, 2023, at 9:30 am
Coastal Hearing Room
Joe Serna Jr. – CalEPA Headquarters Building
1001 I Street, Second Floor
Sacramento, CA 95814
And Via Video and Teleconference
For additional information on the proposed amendment or the public hearing, please see the notice.
Other Relevant Documents
- Electric Grid Reliability Impacts from Once-Through Cooling in California (Jones & Stokes Associates, April 2008)
- California's Coastal Power Plants: Alternative Cooling System Analysis (TetraTech, February 2008)
- Assessment of Once-Through Cooling System Impacts to California Coastal Fish and Fisheries (Electric Power Research Institute, December 2007)
- Issues Analysis of Retrofitting Once-Through Cooled Plants with Closed Cycle Cooling (Electric Power Research Institute, October 2007)
- 1975 Policy on the Use of Inland Waters for Powerplant Cooling - Includes Resolution 75-58
- Federal Water Pollution Control Act: Title 33, Chapter 26, Sec. 316 (b)
Two committees were convened by the Executive Director of the State Water Board, as required by the OTC Policy. The committees are subject to the Bagley-Keene Open Meeting Act.
Statewide Advisory Committee on Cooling Water Intake Structures (SACCWIS)
SACCWIS was established to advise the State Water Board on the implementation of the OTC Policy to ensure that implementation plans and schedules established by the OTC Policy are realistic and will not cause disruption to the State’s electrical power supply. SACCWIS includes representatives from the California Energy Commission, California Public Utilities Commission, California Coastal Commission, California State Lands Commission, California Air Resources Board, California Independent System Operator, and the State Water Board.
Review Committee for Nuclear Fueled Power Plants
This Review Committee was established to oversee special studies, which investigated ability, alternatives, and cost, for the two nuclear-fueled power plants to meet OTC Policy requirements. The special studies were conducted by an independent third party with engineering experience with nuclear power plants, selected by the Executive Director of the State Water Board, and paid for by the two nuclear-fueled power plants subject to the OTC Policy. The Review Committee included representatives from the SACCWIS agencies, the nuclear power companies, the environmental community, and staffs of the State Water Board and appropriate Regional Water Boards. The Review Committee last convened in 2013 to provide and present a final report describing the results of the special studies to the State Water Board.
Permitting of Affected Power Plants
The OTC Policy is implemented through National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permits. The applicable Regional Water Boards are responsible for implementing the OTC Policy requirements in NPDES permits for existing coastal and estuarine power plants. The Water Boards determine requirements to implement best technology available for cooling water intake structures to be included in the permits. State Water Board staff provides technical support to the Regional Water Boards to ensure a high level of statewide consistency in implementing the OTC Policy.
»» For more information on each power plant required to comply with the OTC Policy, visit the Power Plants That Are Affected page.
Questions or Comments
- Permitting Issues - Renan Jauregui at (916) 341-5505 or by email at Renan.Jauregui@waterboards.ca.gov
- Policy Issues - Katherine Walsh at (916) 445-2317 or by email at Katherine.Walsh@waterboards.ca.gov