Legal Aspects of Thermal Discharges

by Angel J. Martin, (M.ASCE), Legal Staff; Power Authority of State of New York, New York, NY,

Serial Information: Journal of the Hydraulics Division, 1974, Vol. 100, Issue 7, Pg. 1059-1069

Document Type: Journal Paper


For the first time a major piece of environmental legislation, the Federal Water Pollution Control Act Amendments of 1972, specifically addresses thermal discharges. This law imposes constraints on existing discharge sources by utilizing effluent limitations and water quality standards while proposed or new sources are governed by federal performance standards. The Amendments envision a joint federal-state effort, in which the states are given primary responsibility for the abatement of pollution in their respective waters, while the federal government lends direction and assistance, and oversees the state effort. However, a difference of opinion exists concerning the proper statutory approach to be followed in the regulation of thermal discharges, with the EPA supporting strict numerical criteria and states such as New York favoring flexible criteria modifiable to fit particular conditions on a case-by-case basis.

Subject Headings: Thermal pollution | Water discharge | Water pollution | Legal affairs | Water policy | Water quality | Standards and codes | Thermal properties | New York | United States

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