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EN25 - Identity, size, protected status, and biodiversity value of water bodies and related habitats significantly affected by the reporting organization's discharges of water and runoff

[Includes discharges to 7Q10 zero flow streams and discharges to water bodies that are recognized by professionals to be particularly sensitive due to their size, function, or status as a rare, threatened or endangered system or support a threatened or endangered species.]  

While American Electric Power discharged approximately 10.3 billion gallons of waste water per day from its steam-electric facilities in 2010, based on design flows, only 32 percent of this water affects the receiving water bodies in any significant way.  Of this, 68 percent, or 2.3 billion gallons of water per day, is non-contact cooling water discharged into Lake Michigan by the Cook Nuclear Plant (Table 6).  This discharge meets all water quality standards and, though biocides are periodically applied, it is treated and considered to be clean water.  However, this discharge is considered to be significant because it is released to Lake Michigan, which is designated as an Outstanding State Resource Water by Indiana and other adjoining states. 

Other discharges constitute the remaining flows to receiving streams which are considered to be significant.  However, these discharges meet all applicable water quality standards and in many cases, have improved the quality of the receiving stream water.  For example, some receiving streams are impacted by acid mine drainage, making them acidic and unable to support aquatic life.  The addition of typically alkaline ash transport water improves the condition of these streams, allowing them to support viable aquatic communities. 

Other AEP discharges are released to water bodies that support federally-listed threatened and endangered species, in particular, freshwater mussels.  While not believed to be harmful, the discharges are listed due to the presence of these species. 

The remaining water bodies receive discharges that make up more than 5 percent of their mean annual flow.  While there is no evidence of harm to such systems, the volume of the discharged water makes the receiving streams vulnerable to water quality changes.  Two facilities in particular, the AEP Conesville and Muskingum River Plants, discharge heated cooling water to the Muskingum River and have the potential to affect fish populations in the river.

The NPDES permits for the Conesville (CV) and Muskingum River Plants (MRP) require that specified downstream water temperatures not be exceeded once the cooling water discharged from the plants mixes with the Muskingum River.   The temperature limits are needed to protect fish and other aquatic life from the adverse effects of high temperature.  Heat from power plants is regarded as a pollutant by state agencies, thus limitations on excessive heat pollution is necessary for environmental protection.

During certain conditions (low river flow and high river and air temperatures), generation must be carefully controlled to make sure that the total heat loading does not cause an excursion of downstream temperature limits.  This requires a real-time, continuous feedback of river temperatures downstream of the plants.  At MRP, temperature sensors have been installed across the river at a distance of one mile from the plant discharge.  The data from these sensors are used by plant staff to accurately assess downstream river temperatures and to make adjustments to protect the fish in the river. 

Four hydroelectric facilities are listed as significantly affecting water bodies due to the discharge of cooling water and process wastewater to streams that contain federally threatened or endangered fish or freshwater mussels (Table 7).  However, the discharges to these streams are very small, being only 0.6% of the total flow of water through these facilities and is no consequence to the aquatic life. 

Table 6.  Water bodies significantly affected by discharges of water from steam-electric facilities.

Water Body Facility Discharge Type Reason for Significant Discharge Designation
Adair Run Glen Lyn Auxiliary fly ash pond >5% mean flow (effluent dominated water body); Green floater mussel (federally threatened) and recently state listed pistolgrip mussel (state threatened) found in New River drainage.  
Blockhouse Hollow Cardinal Fly ash pond >5% mean flow (effluent dominated water body).
Clinch River Clinch River  Waste water treatment Multiple federally endangered mussels within the Clinch River.  River reaches adjacent to the plant are listed federally designated critical habitat for these listed mussels.  Slender chub (federally threatened) and yellowfin madtom (federally threatened) occur in the Clinch River and river reaches adjacent to plant are federally designated critical habitat for these species.  
Conners Run Kammer / Mitchell Fly Ash Pond >5% mean flow (effluent dominated water body).
East River1 Glen Lyn Cooling water, ash transport, coal pile >5% mean flow (effluent dominated water body); Green floater mussel (federally threatened) and recently state listed pistolgrip mussel (state threatened) found in New River drainage.  
Ginney Hollow1 Glen Lyn Cooling water >5% mean flow (effluent dominated water body); Green floater mussel (federally threatened) and recently state listed pistolgrip mussel (state threatened) found in New River drainage.  
Honey Creek Rockport Landfill runoff >5% mean flow (effluent dominated water body).
Kanawha River Kanawha River  Cooling water, ash transport water >5% of mean flow; possible threatened or endangered freshwater mussels.
Kyger Creek Kyger Creek Fly ash pond >5% mean flow (effluent dominated water body).
Lake Michigan Cook  Cooling water Outstanding State Resource Water
Muskingum River Conesville  Cooling water >5% of mean flow; Superior High Quality Water designation by Ohio due to high biodiversity and presence of numerous threatened and endangered mussels. 
Muskingum River Waterford  Cooling tower blowdown Presence of threatened and endangered mussels.
New River  Glen Lyn  Cooling water, ash transport >5% of mean flow; Green floater mussel (federally threatened) and recently state listed pistolgrip mussel (state threatened) found in New River drainage.  
Scioto River Picway  Cooling water, ash transport >5% of mean flow, short-nosed gar (state endangered fish) upstream of Picway, near the Big Walnut Creek confluence.
Stingy Run Gavin Fly ash pond >5% mean flow (effluent dominated water body).
Tanners Creek Lawrenceburg Cooling water, low volume waste >5% mean flow (effluent dominated water body).
Turkey Run Gavin Landfill leachate >5% mean flow (effluent dominated water body)??
Unnamed tributary of Ninemile Creek Comanche Cooling water >5% mean flow (effluent dominated water body).
  1. These streams flow directly into the New River, which supports documented populations of federally threatened mussels.  The streams themselves serve mainly as conduits for the discharges and are not known to support rare or endangered aquatic life.

 

Table 7.  Water bodies significantly affected by discharges of water from hydroelectric facilities.

Water Body Facility Discharge Type Reason for Significant Discharge Designation
New River Claytor Cooling water, seal water Green floater mussel (federally threatened) and recently state listed pistolgrip mussel (state threatened) found in New River drainage ; Fringed mountain snail (federally endangered) historically found in the near vicinity of the Claytor Project boundary.
Roanoke River Leesville  Cooling water, seal water Roanoke logperch (federally endangered fish) found in the Roanoke River drainage; the Pigg River has a relatively good population of Roanoke logperch and the river’s confluence is in Leesville Lake, between Leesville and Smith Mountain Dams.
Roanoke River Niagara  Cooling water, bearing water Roanoke logperch (federally endangered fish) found in the Roanoke River drainage. 
Roanoke River Smith Mountain Cooling water, seal water Roanoke logperch (federally endangered fish) found in the Roanoke River drainage; the Pigg River has a relatively good population of Roanoke logperch and the river’s confluence is in Leesville Lake, between Leesville and Smith Mountain Dams.
Scioto River Picway  Cooling water, ash transport >5% of mean flow, short-nosed gar (state endangered fish) upstream of Picway, near the Big Walnut Creek confluence.

 

Source Information - State water quality standard water use designations; federal and state threatened and endangered species lists; USGS 7Q10 river flow data.

2012