Connect with Tom Higgins at the Engineers’ Society of Western Pennsylvania’s (EWSP) International Water Conference and learn how to prepare for the new effluent limitation guidelines. IWC is the premier source of technical information and training in the industrial water and wastewater business today.

By: Tom Higgins, Julianne Schucker, Karen Leber and Dennis Fink, CH2M

Tom will be attending and presenting his poster, “Complying with the CCR Rule – Preparing for the ELGs” on Wednesday, November 18, from 8 a.m. to 12, at the EWSP’s International Water Conference, being held November 15-19, in Orlando, Florida.

Tom will also present on “Implementing Enhanced Pond Treatment to Meet Stringent Effluent Limits,” on Tuesday, November 17, from 8 a.m. to 12; “Challenges in Flue Gas Desulfurization Physical/Chemical Wastewater Treatment for Mercury and Arsenic” on Tuesday, November 17, at 2 p.m.; as well as lead a discussion on “Examining Design Challenges and Opportunities to Comply with Anti-Circumvention Provisions Proposed in the ELGs”, on Wednesday, November 18, at 11 a.m.

Today, with increasing regulations governing coal combustion residuals (CCRs) and wastewater, power plants are facing a perfect storm of regulations. In April 2015, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published a final rule in the Federal Register to regulate the disposal of CCRs as solid waste, as part of its Resource Conservation and Recovery Act.

Under this rule, CCRs consist of fly ash, bottom ash, boiler slag and flue gas desulfurization (FGD) solids produced at electric utilities and independent power producers, where coal is more than 50 percent of the fuel burned.

The CCR rule contains several provisions requiring coal ash ponds to stop receiving wastewater in less than five years. The closure triggers include: groundwater monitoring wells exceeding drinking water standards or background, as well as not meeting location criteria, such as the bottom of the pond being less than five feet above the water table. When closure is triggered, a utility must stop sending wastewater to the pond within six months, requiring an alternative means of treating this wastewater. If a utility waits until closure is required, the utility will not have time to implement alternate treatment systems.  Some wastewater streams going to ponds can be eliminated – such as by going from wet to dry fly ash handling. Others will require treatment and solids removal functionality to replace that of the pond.  In addition, power plants must plan for wastewater discharge limits, which are getting tighter through water quality based effluent limits (WQBEL) and the recently (November 3, 2015) finalized Effluent Limitation Guidelines (ELGs).  These new wastewater treatment systems should not only meet today’s requirements, but must be designed with adaptability to meet future limits, without stranding the investment of the pond-replacement system.

Utilities should start planning now to ensure they can face this regulatory storm and efficiently evaluate, select, design and build new wastewater and solid waste systems. An efficient alternatives evaluation is critical to selecting the right compliance strategy for each plant. These types of evaluations are most effective and efficient when done by experienced staff, using proven tools and methods to develop conceptual designs, cost/risk scoring and cost estimates.

CH2M has developed treatment technologies that offer cost and schedule savings to help power plants meet the requirements of the CCR Rule and ELG. Interested in more information on this topic? Read our recent article in Power Engineering on the implications of the CCR Rule and ELGs for wastewater treatment plants or connect with us at IWC!

Dr. Thomas E. Higgins, PhD, PE, is a Vice President, Technology Fellow and Global Technology Leader for Power Water and Process at CH2M. He earned three degrees in Environmental Engineering at Notre Dame, was an Associate Professor of Civil Engineering at Arizona State University, and has 40 years of experience developing technologies for and designing wastewater treatment systems for power plants, particularly for metals removal. He is the author of more than 100 publications, including three books and three patents.  

Julianne Schucker, CPG, brings more than 25 years of experience managing large environmental projects with emphasis on developing site strategies to achieve project goals. She has expertise in site investigations and cleanup and in risk-based closure for industrial sites, including managing voluntary action compliance programs and supporting land acquisition and divestiture. Julie is currently the project manager for CCR related projects at several generating stations. She was also the project manager for our successful pond closure planning at DP&L’s O.H. Hutchings Station and task manager for CCR compliance at an Indiana utility client, where CH2M developed closure alternatives at four stations. Julie is a Certified Professional Geologist.

Karen Leber, PE, is a lead project engineer and project manager experienced in evaluating wastewater treatment operations and assessing wastewater treatment alternatives for industrial wastewater. She has worked with various industrial wastewaters, including those generated by power industry, oil and gas, mining and various chemical industries. She also has experience with National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permitting and compliance, multimedia auditing and other various water and air regulatory compliance.

Dennis Fink, PE, brings 20 years of experience in water/wastewater treatment and characterization, pollution prevention and groundwater remediation projects. He specializes in power plant and refinery wastewater treatment and management. Dennis’s recent work includes leading development of wastewater compliance strategies at seven power plants in the past two years.