The Energy and Environment Cabinet’s Division of Water has released the biennial report, Integrated Report to Congress on the Condition of Water Resources in Kentucky, 2012, Volumes 1 and 2, which is required by Section 305(b) of the Clean Water Act.
The interim goal of the Clean Water Act seeks to make the nation’s waters safe for swimming and to restore the biological health (aquatic life) to a quality that the waters are fishable; the report assesses the extent to which the state’s waters have attained those goals. State water quality standards designate beneficial uses for rivers, streams and lakes. Water quality assessments for the report identify whether streams support those designated uses, including aquatic life (warmwater and coldwater aquatic habitat), primary contact recreation (e.g., swimming), secondary contact recreation (e.g. boating and fishing) and domestic water supply (DWS). While fish consumption is not a designated use, waterbodies have been assessed for fish consumption based on criteria to protect human health.
The 2012 report is based primarily on results from monitoring performed between April 2006 and March 2011 in the Salt River – Licking River and the Upper Cumberland – 4-Rivers basin management units (BMUs). The designated use with the most stream miles and reservoir surfacewater-acres monitored and assessed is aquatic life (habitat). Out of approximately 91,000 stream miles statewide, there have been 10,256 stream miles monitored and assess for coldwater and warmwater aquatic life. Publicly accessible reservoirs (lakes) represent about 222,076 surfacewater-acres and of those 220,033 surfacewater-acres have been assessed for coldwater and warmwater aquatic life; of those total assessed acres, 211,312 (96 percent) fully support the use. For primary contact recreation, approximately 5,070 stream miles and 61,930 reservoir acres have been monitored and assessed with 30 percent and 100 percent fully supporting the use, respectively. The secondary contact recreation use is fully supported in 67 percent (1,989 miles) of stream miles monitored and assessed and in 99 percent of monitored and assessed reservoir acres (212,969 acres). Fish consumption is supported in 61 percent (695 miles) of monitored and assessed stream miles and in 59 percent (121,113) of reservoir acres. For DWS 100 percent of assessed stream miles (690) and greater than 99 percent of lake acres (181,264 acres) assessed fully support the use.
Monitoring and assessment results reported in the 2012 Integrated Report indicate the two leading causes (pollutants) of streams not fully supporting uses are pathogens (the primary surrogate indicator is the bacterium Escherichia coli) and sedimentation/siltation. The two major suspected sources of pollutants are runoff from agricultural activities and habitat modification (other than hydromodification). For reservoirs the two leading causes impairing water quality are methylmercury in fish tissue, including mercury, and PCB (polychlorinated biphenyl) compounds in fish tissue; the leading suspected sources of pollutants are atmospheric deposition and source unknown.
Volume II of the Integrated Report is required under section 303(d) of the Clean Water Act. This section requires states and authorized tribes to identify waterbodies and stream segments that do not or are not expected to meet water quality standards. The act also requires the state to develop a priority ranking for these waterbodies and stream segments, taking into account the severity of the pollutants and each applicable designated use affected. For each of those 303(d) listed waterbodies and segments a state must develop a total maximum daily allowance (i.e., total maximum daily load or TMDL) for each identified pollutant that, once implemented, will result in the quality of water needed to meet water quality standards.
The 2012 Integrated Report, Volumes I and II, are available on the Kentucky Division of Water website at http://water.ky.gov/waterquality/Pages/IntegratedReport.aspx#.
For further information, please contact Randy Payne, environmental scientist, at 502-564-3410 or Randall.Payne@ky.gov .