Marine Pollution

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Science  27 Jul 2018:
Vol. 361, Issue 6400, pp. 376
DOI: 10.1126/science.361.6400.376-a

Beach-filtered intake systems could decrease the impact of power plant draws on aquatic ecosystems.

PHOTO: MICHELLE MCMAHON/GETTY IMAGES

Coastal power stations regularly draw water from the ocean as a cooling source, and this water is later returned to the marine environment. The water and any marine organisms that happen to be drawn in with it are exposed to high temperatures and other mechanical processes that generally reduce survival and affect populations near outflows. Jebakumar et al. looked at the impacts of this process on an Indian creek system influenced by power station cooling draws. They found reductions in abundance, decreases in survival, and changes in community structure across marine taxa influenced by the draws. Further, regulations to reduce the temperature of the water before it is returned, though necessary, increased the impact owing to the need to draw larger amounts of water into the plant for cooler outflows. The authors suggest that a relatively simple solution would be to widely institute subsurface intake systems, or “beach wells,” which naturally filter out marine organisms before intake and improve water quality, across tropical regions.

Mar. Pol. Bull. 10.1016/j.marpolbul.2018.05.053 (2018).

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