State regulators, LADWP reach agreement on delaying Clean Water Act provision

LADWP building
LADWP building
Omar Bárcena/Flickr

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State water regulators struck a compromise Tuesday that will give the L.A. Department of Water and Power more time to meet standards for coastal power plants.

Three DWP facilities must stop using sea water to cool those natural gas-powered plants.The utility had told regulators it needed 15 more years to adopt those changes, but the state Water Resources Control Board has given them 9 more years.

DWP general manager Ron Nichols told the board he's not sure the utility can – or will - comply.

"Is that a prudent plan?" he asked. "To go forward and say everything works exactly as planned? The world typically doesn't go that way. But it's - theoretically, theoretically, that's achievable."

Federal law makes the seawater cooling process illegal because it harms marine life and alters the food web in coastal ecosystems. Officials from the DWP and some local businesses objected that the cost of meeting environmental deadlines would raise electricity rates.