Con Edison of New York’s East River Station withdraws water from the adjacent East River for equipment-cooling purposes. The water circulates through the station’s cooling loop and is then returned to the river. Although the water intakes are screened, some aquatic life such as small fish, eggs, and larvae can be drawn through the system or trapped against the screen.
To substantially lower the plant’s impact on the river’s ecosystem, and to ensure future compliance with stricter State rules regulating water withdrawals, we embarked on a $35 million project to upgrade the plant’s water intakes. In 2012 a previously retired water intake bay was re-activated to supplement the four operating intake bays, thereby reducing the overall intake system's water velocity. A lower water intake velocity will enable fish to swim away from the intake pipes more effectively. Further, a new traveling screen equipped with fine mesh panels was successfully installed within the newly activated bay to minimize the withdrawal or entrainment of smaller eggs and larvae.
In 2013 the company will outfit the remaining four intake bays with new traveling screens equipped with fine mesh panels and install a new dedicated fish return trough. This will ultimately allow aquatic organisms that may become trapped, or impinged, on the new fine mesh screens to be gently removed via a low pressure spray wash system and delicately returned to the river.
Verification testing of the modified intakes will follow the 2013 installation. The project scope and design have been approved by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. Once finished, the environmental impact of station operations on the East River's aquatic life will be considerably reduced.
“As a recreational fisherman, I really value our waterways. I enjoy seeing continued improvement in the water quality now and for future generations.”Rich Ferris Rich is a project manager at the East River steam generating station. His work to protect fish and marine wildlife will help renew the East River estuary.