Recently the Sierra Club put out an animated short explaining that every year 2.1 billion pounds of fish, crab, and shrimp are killed shredded by power plants that suck up billions of gallons of water from rivers and lakes and don't even re-use it. The following clip nicely summarizes the situation:
Here's the thing: it's not just about the fish. The USGS estimates that fully half of all the water withdrawals in the U.S. can be attributed to power generation. The problem is that these old-style plants, all 670 of them, use "once-through" cooling, dumping cooling water directly back into the body they drew it from. This causes major problems in a warming, water-starved world, in which water may not be plentiful enough for once-through cooling.
Case in point: Georgia, Florida and Alabama have been locked in litigation over water rights for 20 years over a nuclear plant in Dothan, Ala. Georgia needs water for cities like Atlanta, but Alabama needs the same water to cool its wasteful, once-through nuclear power plant. Eventually, something's got to give.
Plus, of course, there’s the chopped-up fish goo. If these power plants can't be retrofitted, at the very least power plant operators should be forced to eat what they kill, like Mark Zuckerberg.
"Fish Chopper" Animation Shows the Gruesome, Deadly Side of Power Plant Cooling Towers (Video), Treehugger.