We’ve come a long way to a cleaner environment. The earliest sewers were enclosed waterways where stormwater and wastewater were combined to be discharged downstream of the Roman or medieval civilization. “Dilution is the solution to pollution” was the design philosophy for centuries. As technology developed and we learned more about water borne diseases, society began to adapt and in the process began to separate the wastewater and stormwater discharges in the late 1800s. However, even in this day some communities still operate combined sewers.
Similar to domestic systems, in the Power Industry waste streams have traditionally been combined into a common piping network. Some are sent to a system of ash ponds near a natural drainage point while others discharge to a natural waterway. Adaptation takes time and in America advancements really took off after the Clean Water Act was passed in 1972, partially as a response to the pollution of the Industrial Revolution. As we learn more about constituents in our discharge, the EPA, State, and Local permitting agencies are at work making regulations more restrictive. Dilution is no longer the solution to pollution.
The new EPA CCR Rule will result in fewer ash ponds and the revised EPA Effluent Limitation Guidelines (ELG) Rule will result in the separation (or elimination) of waste streams as State and Local regulators adopt state specific regulations. Some plants will close while others will convert to using natural gas as fuel. Others will take a Zero Liquid Discharge (ZLD) strategy and attempt to reroute waste streams for plant uses or to systems that will evaporate water.
As a consulting firm that provides engineering services to the power industry across the county, Sega is in a position to help your company with a wide range of lessons learned for any option regarding the future of your power plant.