Water is an important part of power plant operation. In 2015, EPA promulgated three new water-related regulatory programs that have the potential to impact APS.
Rule 316(b) Cooling Water Intake Structures
This rule establishes standards to protect fish and other aquatic organisms from the impact of cooling water intake structures at over 650 power plants across the nation, but for APS it only applies to the Four Corners Power Plant. We currently expect EPA to require monitoring and data collection to meet 316 (b) requirements at Four Corners. In 2015, as part of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process at Four Corners, APS initiated conservation measures that will help us meet the 316 (b) requirements.
Effluent Limitation Guidelines (ELG) Rule
This rule regulates discharges into Waters of the United States. Proposed changes predominantly focus on wastewater from fly and bottom ash handling, flu gas desulfurization (FGD) operations and non-chemical metal cleaning wastes. At Four Corners, discharge of bottom ash transfer water must cease by a date to be identified in the National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit by EPA. APS has been working on engineering solutions to meet these requirements.
Waters of the United States
This rule revises the definition of Waters of the United States (WOTUS) under the Clean Water Act. As finalized, the rule modifies the extent of federal jurisdiction over various waterbodies. Since the purpose of the rule was to broaden the scope of the Clean Water Act by extending the jurisdictional reach of the EPA, this rule has the potential to impact previously unregulated areas. In October of 2015, the United States Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit issued a nationwide stay against the enforcement of the new rule. Accordingly, the new, broader definition will not be applicable until such time as the Court issues a ruling on the case or removes the stay. Regardless of the outcome of the litigation, because APS has been conservative in its characterization of sites and projects under the prior definition, the new broader definition does not appear to have any added consequence for existing APS sites, however, the the broader definition may slow the development of future projects by requiring additional permitting.