EPA Unveils Rule on Industrial Cooling Water Regs

Updated: Fri, Nov 09 7:02 PM EST

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Environmental Protection Agency on Friday issued a rule governing cooling water used by industrial facilities and electric power plants.

According to a release, EPA Administrator Christine Todd Whitman signed a rulemaking designed to reduce the effects that cooling water released from industrial plants have on underwater life near the facilities.

The rule will govern the design, capacity and construction of new facilities at about 121 new factories and power plants over the next 20 years, EPA said. The rulemaking fills a requirement previously set by the Clean Air Act, the EPA said.

The EPA estimated the rule will cost less than $47 million per year to implement and have no impact on U.S. energy supplies. The EPA said it will publish more information on the rule next week.

The rule will require facilities to design cooling water intakes that protect fish and other wildlife that live close by. Industrial plants often use water from nearby lakes, rivers and oceans to cool down their manufacturing equipment.

"The cooling water intake process can damage fish and sea life when the intake structures are not properly designed," the EPA said in its release.