Effect of Power Plant Discharges on Drinking Water Sources

Bromide is receiving considerable attention in the drinking water community due to its effect on disinfection byproduct (DBP) formation. The health risk associated with DBPs is species-dependent, with brominated and iodated DBPs exhibiting higher risk compared to chlorinated DBPs.

The objective of this work is to understand the current impacts of coal-fired power plant bromide discharges on DBP formation at downstream drinking water treatment plants and to project the future effects as power plants increase the use of air quality control technologies.

Bromide is naturally present in fossil fuels, and discharges of bromide are associated with oil and gas produced water management as well as coal-fired power plants, particularly those using wet flue-gas desulfurization (FGD) for air quality control. Meeting the new Mercury and Air Toxics Standard may increase coal-fired power plant bromide discharges to surface water sources supplying downstream drinking water treatment plants.

This project involves collaboration with several agencies in the region, and current work is focused on understanding and modeling power plant bromide loading in the Allegheny River and Monongahela River basins.