Public Comment Period Now Open for Impaired Waters

Draft 2022 303(d) List at Public Notice, February 21, 2023

The Kentucky Division of Water has opened a 60-day comment period on the draft 2022 303(d) list of impaired waters as required by KRS 224.70-150.  Comments received by email or mail must be dated or postmarked no later than April 22, 2023. Comments on the draft 303(d) list may be sent:

  • Via email (preferred method) to (Subject line: “303(d) List”)
  • Via U.S. Mail to: 
    Water Quality Branch (ATTN: 303(d) List)
    Kentucky Division of Water
    300 Sower Blvd., 3rd Floor
    Frankfort, KY 40601

The Division has developed a dedicated public notice site to view the draft 303(d) list, new listings, proposed delistings, waters with completed total maximum daily loads (TMDLs), and the 305(b) list. Spreadsheets and interactive maps with video tutorials are available through this site. Links to assessment summaries and TMDL documents are available through the map dashboards or in the provided spreadsheets. 

Section 305(b) of the Clean Water Act (CWA) requires states to report to Congress every two years on the health of waters in the state, and whether the water quality of individual waterbodies is sufficient to support their designated uses. In Kentucky, these designated uses include primary contact recreation, secondary contact recreation, aquatic life, domestic water supply, fish consumption, and outstanding state resource waters. The Division determines if a waterbody meets its designated use by using water quality sampling and assessment methodologies developed by the state and approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Section 303(d) of the CWA requires states to identify impaired waters, the pollutant(s) causing the impairment, and to develop a TMDL for each of those pollutants.  Section 303(d) also requires states to prioritize waters for TMDL development. The TMDL, which is a daily maximum allowance for a pollutant, supports plans and strategies for restoring water quality.

This reporting cycle represents monitoring efforts that took place between 2016 and 2020.  In total 1,047 sampling locations contributed data to the 2022 cycle, and 615 assessments were completed.  DOW’s Ambient Rivers program sampled the following basin management units (BMUs): Big and Little Sandy Rivers and Tygarts Creek BMU, Kentucky River BMU, Salt and Licking Rivers BMU, and Upper Cumberland and Four Rivers BMU.  Data collected by other internal programs, such as ambient lakes, fish tissue, and intensive survey, provide updates throughout the state, while data collected by the Ohio River Valley Water Sanitation Commission (ORSANCO) were used to update assessments along the Ohio River. 

The draft 2022 305(b) list has 2,953 assessment units representing 13,136.4 river miles, 212,585 lake/reservoir acres, and 170,469 springshed acres, while the 2018-2020 305(b) list has 2,879 assessment units. The additional assessment units have been added by 1) splitting an existing assessment unit into two or more assessment units, or 2) by assessing a previously unassessed waterbody. 

As part of the 2022 cycle, the entire Ohio River was re-segmented in recognition of domestic water supply intakes and additional applicable designated uses, such as Outstanding State Resource Waters (OSRW).  This re-segmentation occurred by splitting existing Ohio River assessment units into two or more assessment units, making the number of assessment units along the Ohio River increase from 49 to 77.  However, the number of miles assessed along the Ohio River has not changed. The modifications spreadsheet provided on the ‘Welcome Tab’ of the public notice site has information about all assessment units that were re-segmented as part of the 2022 cycle.    

Assessment results from the 2018-2020 Integrated Report can be accessed at the Kentucky Water Health Portal.  Upon EPA approval of the 2022 303(d) list, the Water Health Portal will be updated with the 2022 305(b) assessment information.    

New listings map from the public notice site, which displays waterbodies with pollutants that are newly listed on the 2022 303(d) list as causes of impairment (not meeting water quality standards) and require a Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL).