Shrinking fresh water resources and increasing competing demands for water among other users have been a growing concern in many parts of the world, which compels the challenges in water use management faced by both operating and new power generation facilities. For new plants in the planning stage, the ability to demonstrate the availability of water and develop practical and achievable water use management strategies to support the long-term operation of the proposed facility in a sustainable manner has become one of the key elements in the site selection process.

The water demands of particular concerns for the power industry come primarily from cooling water needs, which traditionally constitute the majority of plant water use during the operation phase. This paper examines the water use management challenges confronted by new nuclear power plants in site selection and licensing stages as well as by existing plants in the operating stage in the United States. Using an example, it discusses the types of adaptive approaches on the selection of the heat dissipation systems and designs of cooling water systems that can be adopted by new plants to mitigate the declining water availability, and the related environmental and regulatory challenges. The use of modeling tools to estimate cooling water consumptions and availability and predict environmental impacts in the development of sustainable water management strategies are also illustrated.

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