Kentucky’s drinking water continues excellence in quality, reliability, annual report shows

Increase in health-based violations result from rule changes and reporting errors

FRANKFORT, Ky. June 30, 2017 – Data from Kentucky’s 441 public water systems show that systems consistently produce excellent quality water and are nearly always in compliance with the Safe Drinking Water requirements, according to the Kentucky annual Drinking Water Report. The report summarizes the compliance data and status of public water system compliance monitoring results.

The Safe Drinking Water Act rules require all of Kentucky’s public water systems to regularly test drinking water for more than 100 contaminants such as bacteria, nitrates and other chemicals. The Kentucky Division of Water (DOW) reviews the results and issues the report. A water system that exceeds established limits for a contaminant is required to take corrective action and notify its customers.

“This report illustrates that Kentucky public water systems, which serve more than 95 percent of Kentuckians, reliably provide high-quality drinking water to our citizens,” said Peter Goodmann, Director of the DOW. “Given all the challenges faced by public water systems, this record of compliance is admirable.”

The annual Drinking Water report is required by the federal Safe Drinking Water Act, and lists Kentucky’s 441 public water systems and all notices of violation issued in the previous calendar year. Most of the violations recorded are administrative violations regarding issues with monitoring and reporting. Kentucky’s public water systems have shown improvement with the decrease in Monitoring and Reporting Violations in 2016.

Prior to 2013, annual drinking water reports had shown a progressive decrease in the number of health-based violations over the past several years. However, as anticipated, the number of health-based violations at public water systems have been increasing since 2014 with the implementation of new Safe Drinking Water Act requirements for some public water systems.

Health-based violations increased for the third consecutive year to 226 violations in 2016. Due to the increase in health-based violations the DOW remains committed to targeted technical assistance to water systems. The DOW employees Technical Assistance Providers that work one-on-one with water systems to help resolve a variety of issues. In addition the Division partners with Kentucky Rural Water Association through a contractual relationship to offer additional resources (e.g. technical assistance, training, sampling, etc.) with focus on the reduction of disinfection byproducts (DBPs) throughout the state.

ACR chart1

The increase of health-based violations is directly attributed to the continued implementation of the “Stage 2 Disinfection Byproduct Rule,” a recent rule from the federal government.  Disinfection byproducts are a class of contaminants that result from the interaction of disinfection chemicals such as chlorine with other chemicals in the water. Violations related to DPBs constitute 97% of all health-based drinking water violations while a small number of other violations constitute the balance of health-based violations.

Chart 2.1

The federal rule for Stage 2 Disinfection Byproducts requires public water systems that purchase water from another public water system and re-distribute that water to their customers (purchasing systems) to monitor for and meet recently established standards for DPBs, from which they were previously exempt. Several water systems have experienced an increase in health-based violations since the implementation of these more stringent standards in 2013. The increase in health-based violations is not reflective of a change in water quality.

“Once a Notice of Violation is issued, the water systems are required to adjust their treatment and distribution processes. Many systems return to compliance with the standards after making the adjustments. The DOW provides targeted technical assistance for water systems that fail to return to compliance,” said Sarah Jon Gaddis, Manager of the Compliance and Technical Assistance Branch. “On a positive note, the number of Monitoring and Reporting violations decreased in 2016. The Division of Water is actively working with water systems to ensure proper submission of data and reports to avoid these types of violations.”

Data reported by water systems in 2016 shows that none of Kentucky’s 441 public drinking water systems exceeded federally established limits for metals, including lead, or cancer causing volatile organic compounds.

The report is online and may be found at http://water.ky.gov/DrinkingWater/Pages/AnnualComplianceReports.aspx.

For more information about the report, contact Sarah Jon Gaddis at 502-782-6953.

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