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.