What is a Cooling Pond?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

A cooling pond is a human-made pond which is used for purposes of cooling. Cooling ponds are utilized most commonly with power plants which use water for cooling, although there are alternatives such as cooling towers which can be considered for cooling needs at such facilities. In areas where cooling ponds are used, the pond may be utilized for recreation by members of the surrounding community, by arrangement with the power plant.


In a cooling pond, hot water is pumped through the pond to cool down. The heat is transferred through the water, bringing the temperature down so that the water can be used again. This is part of a process known as “wet cooling.” One big drawback to wet cooling is water loss through evaporation, which can become a problem if water supplies are limited. In this case, water is not a great choice of cooling material because the plant must important more water on a regular basis to keep the cooling systems operational.

A power plant cooling pond can vary in size. The size of the facility is an important factor in planning of the pond, because it needs to be large enough to adequately handle cooling during periods of peak production. Depending on the design, it may also be quite deep, because deep water tends to stay cooler longer. Deep water cooling, as it is known, is also used for climate control systems in some structures.

Some nuclear power facilities use a nuclear cooling pond, although this has fallen out of vogue as more and more facilities adopt cooling towers. The disadvantage to a pond for nuclear facilities is that if there is an accident, the pond will be contaminated along with the surrounding area, and people may not be able to use it for an extended period of time. Cooling ponds also require more space, which can be a problem in densely populated nations which do not have enough room for power plants to sprawl out with cooling ponds.

The power plant is responsible for creating and maintaining the cooling pond, and for ensuring that it is not contaminated. Recreational uses of cooling ponds can include swimming and boating, and in some regions the ponds are used as fish hatcheries, to support fish populations by providing a safe place for dish to hatch. Once hatched, the young can be allowed to develop before being moved to other locations or harvested for food.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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Discussion Comments


What exactly is deep water cooling? The article stated it was a type of cooling tower technology, but I am not sure how it works. Is deep water cooling similar to geothermal heating and cooling, but with water instead? I have never heard of deep water cooling until I read this article. Great article by the way.


@Babalaas- That type of building is called an Alhambra garden style building/home. Swamp cooler air chillers are based on the same concept. If I am not mistaken, that type of garden originated in Southern Spain in the 14th century, specifically Granada. The style is Moorish with a decidedly Arabic influence.

The system is a passive cooling system, and is quite ingenious. Honestly, if more builders would spend more time on architectural history, they could find innovative ways to maximize natural heating, cooling, and lighting of buildings with passive design techniques. These techniques can greatly reduce the amount of energy that a building uses.


I have seen retail buildings that use a type of cooling pond technology to reduce the costs of energy used to cool the building. I thought the idea was unique, and being from the northeast, I had never seen it before. The center of the building had an open courtyard that had a shallow pond filled with koi and water lilies. The upwind side of the building had a tower that opened up to a covered walkway at the top of the courtyard.

Each of the stores in the building opened into the courtyard. The breeze would blow across the tower, sweep down the tower and blow across the pond in the courtyard. The shopping plaza was in the southwest, so it was about 105 degrees when I was there. Surprisingly though, the temperature inside of the courtyard was probably around 85 to 90 degrees. It was much cooler than the parking lot outside.

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