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EPA Issues Final Power Plant Toxic Water Pollution Rule

EPA Issues Final Power Plant Toxic Water Pollution Rule

During final deliberations on rule, Riverkeeper Sam Perkins discussed why strong rule is needed in a place like the Catawba-Wateree River basin.

EPA Issues Final Power Plant Toxic Water Pollution Rule

EPA building in Washington, D.C.; SELC attorney Frank Holleman and Riverkeeper Sam Perkins ready to meet with the EPA and OMB; Marshall Steam Station's discharge into Lake Norman.

In late August, Riverkeeper Sam Perkins went to work on the federal level in Washington, D.C.. He had multiple meetings with both the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Office of Management and Budget (OMB). The Catawba-Wateree basin is a prime example of threats and problems when mismanaged waste piles up in a relatively small but heavily populated basin.

One month later, the meeting with both EPA and OMB produced particularly impactful results as a strong waste discharge rule was adopted!  The EPA and OMB have long been working on Effluent Limitation Guideline (ELG) rules for power plants (of which the Catawba-Wateree, in only a 39-mile span of the River, has four active and one inactive but still discharging). A range of options had been proposed. Perkins was invited to advocate for the strongest option, which would be a major step to fulfilling the original intent of the Clean Water Act and its National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System: to eliminate pollutant discharges! Basically, if you use water to handle waste, only return the water to waterways, not the waste! While the absolute strongest version of the rule was not passed, we were very pleased to hear the federal government would adopt a relatively strong version. The EPA estimates that the new rule, once implemented, will eliminate 1.4 billion pounds of harmful pollutants from entering waterways across the country every year. The new requirements are expected to create about $500 million in health and environmental benefits annually, while costing most power plants less than one percent of their annual revenue.

The final rule can be found here:


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To report South Carolina water pollution call 1-888-481-0125.

To report North Carolina spills or fish kills, call your local regional Department of Environment & Natural Resources office during normal business hours (704-663-1699 for most Catawba basin areas or (828) 296-4500 for Burke, Caldwell, McDowell and other mountain counties) or 800-858-0368 after hours.  (For more information on NC spill reporting, click here)

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