Cooling Water Intake Structure Rule

In 2014, EPA finalized its 316(b) cooling water intake structure rule applicable to manufacturing facilities. The rule is designed to protect fish and other aquatic species from impingement on screens associated with surface water intake structures and entrainment of species that might pass through screens and into cooling water systems. Specific rule provisions are found in 40 CFR Parts 122 and 125, and these are summarized in NCASI Corporate Correspondent Memorandum No. 14-008.

Following promulgation of the rule, NCASI assembled a living Q&A document (currently version 1.1, released December 2016) intended to provide information about certain rule requirements as they may apply to facilities in the forest products industry. The information provided in this document relates to a number of common questions about the rule (in particular, where rule language may be unclear) and, in some instances, describes statements from EPA or state agencies that may be useful for interpreting the rule.

The document includes important definitions as well as sections on the rule’s applicability criteria, permitting requirements, compliance alternatives, de minimis conditions, and provisions pertaining to the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The document will be of interest to companies with facilities that withdraw surface water for use in process cooling.

NCASI plans to update this Q&A document periodically as more information becomes available. Readers are encouraged to contact NCASI staff with questions or when further clarification on the information in the Q&A document is needed. NCASI staff are also interested in learning about facility and company-specific experiences, especially when such experiences may suggest the need to update information in the Q&A document.

Download the latest version of Questions and Answers on EPA's Section 316(b) Rule for Cooling Water Intake Structures (PDF)

Readers are reminded that the Q&A document is not intended to provide advice of any kind nor is it a substitute for legal interpretation of rule provisions or compliance requirements. 

For more information

Assistance with CWIS rule-related questions may be directed to Paul Wiegand.