Bromide in Drinking Water Sources, Pennsylvania

Good KD, Vanbriesen JM. Power plant bromide discharges and downstream drinking water systems in Pennsylvania. Environmental science and technology. 2017 Sep 25. doi: 10.1021/acs.est.7b03003.

Coal-fired power plants operating wet flue gas desulfurization (FGD) have recently been implicated in increasing bromide levels in drinking water sources, which affect formation of disinfection by-products. Bromide was not included as a regulated constituent in the recent steam electric effluent limitations guidelines and standards (ELGs) since the U.S. EPA analysis suggested few drinking water facilities would be affected by bromide discharges from power plants. The present analysis uses a watershed approach to identify Pennsylvania drinking water intakes downstream of wet FGD discharges and considers the population served by these systems, providing context for the potential extent of the effects of coal-fired power plant discharges on downstream drinking water plants and consumers of publicly-supplied drinking water. Twenty-two (22) public drinking water systems serving 2.5 million people were identified as being downstream of at least one wet FGD discharge. During mean August flow conditions in receiving rivers, the median bromide concentration contributions at intake locations ranged from 5.2 to 62 µg/L for the Base scenario (including only natural bromide in coal) and 16 to 190 µg/L for the Bromide Addition scenario (natural plus added bromide for mercury control); ranges depend on bromide loads and receiving stream dilution capacity.

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