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EPA announced a new proposed rule November 4 titled Effluent Limitations Guidelines and Standards for the Steam Electric Power Generating Point Source Category. The rule would revise certain provisions to the agency’s 2015 rule of the same name. Per the agency’s proposal, the rule would protect the environment and public health by limiting wastewater discharges into surface waters and wastewater treatment plants from steam electric plants.

This proposal seeks to revise the current effluent limits for flue gas desulfurization wastewater and for bottom ash transport water for existing facilities. The agency stated that more affordable technologies have become available for these components since the 2015 rule was finalized and this warranted the proposed modifications. According to EPA’s fact sheet, the proposal would “achieve pollution reductions that are greater than the 2015 rule would have achieved–to the tune of an estimated 105 million pounds of lead, arsenic, mercury, and other pollutants prevented from entering our nation’s waters annually.”

AMWA had signed onto a comment letter with other water groups in 2013, when the 2015 rule was first proposed, encouraging EPA to follow through on its effluent limits guidelines updates for this sector, emphasizing the drinking water nexus. The proposal was published in the Federal Register November 22 and the public has until January 21, 2020 to provide comment.