Division of Water Provides Water Safety Tips Ahead of Holiday

FRANKFORT, Ky. (May 22, 2020) – With the Memorial Day holiday upon us, and COVID-19 recreational limitations slowly being lifted in the coming weeks, the Kentucky Division of Water (DOW) provides these safety tips to help Kentuckians enjoy the abundant water resources that the lakes, rivers and creeks of the Commonwealth have to offer.

Many facilities, including state park beaches, remain closed at this time. For timelines on their reopening, please go to https://parks.ky.gov/covid-19-information. Information on staying safe and healthy during the Coronavirus pandemic can be found at https://kycovid19.ky.gov.

Despite many water quality improvements, there is the potential for human health risks in any body of water.  By using common sense, your risks of experiencing water-derived health issues can be greatly decreased.

Those choosing to utilize public water resources should:

  1. Avoid ingesting or inhaling the water.
  2. Thoroughly clean hands and other areas that have come in contact with the water.
  3. Avoid allowing open wounds to have direct contact with the water.
  4. Avoid areas where swimming or harmful algal bloom (HAB) advisories have been issued.
  5. Avoid water with obvious odors or surface scums.
  6. Avoid getting in water after heavy rainfall, especially in dense residential, urban and agricultural areas.
  7. Avoid areas below wastewater treatment facility outfalls, animal feedlots, straight pipes or other obvious sources of pollution.
  8. Restrict pets and livestock from drinking the water if a bright green or blue-green surface scum is present.

More information concerning the quality of Kentucky’s water resources such as advisories or impairments can be found here.

Gov. Beshear launched the Healthy at Work initiative in late April to guide the smart, safe and gradual reopening of the state’s economy. The initiative sets out public health benchmarks for reopening Kentucky’s economy.

Keep up with information from Gov. Beshear and his administration about the Covid-19 pandemic at governor.ky.gov, kycovid19.ky.gov and on the Governor’s official social media accounts Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

If you experience symptoms, such as gastro-intestinal upset or rash, after recreation in natural waters, such as streams, rivers or lakes, consult your physician or call your local health department.

For more information on healthy swimming in all water bodies, visit http://www.cdc.gov/healthywater/swimming/.

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Federal Court Narrows the verdict for the Nationwide Permit 12

On April 15, 2020, a federal court judge for the U.S. District Court for the District Of Montana ordered the Army Corps of Engineers’ (USACE) to halt its Nationwide Permit (NWP) #12 process for pipeline and power line projects over federally protected waters. This order also vacated the use of the Kentucky Division of Water’s corresponding general certification.

On May 11, in response to a motion by the Corps, the federal court narrowed the scope of the April 15, 2020 verdict as follows: NWP 12 is vacated as it relates to the construction of new oil and gas pipelines but authorizes other utility construction, routine maintenance, inspection, and repair activities on existing NWP 12 projects as defined in the federal Register under Nationwide Permit 12, Utility Line Activities.

The Division of Water is again able to certify some utility activities through the corresponding general certification.

Questions about the application process or the recent court order can be emailed to 401WQC@ky.gov.

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Area 8 Meeting of the Soil and Water Conservation Commission, Planned for June 9, 2020

FRANKFORT, Ky. (May 20, 2020) – The Area 8 meeting of the Soil and Water Conservation Commission will be held June 9, 2020, at 7:00 p.m. EDT by videoconference. This area meeting will include conservation district supervisors from Bath, Boyd, Carter, Elliott, Fleming, Floyd, Greenup, Johnson, Lawrence, Lewis, Magoffin, Martin, Menifee, Montgomery, Morgan, Pike and Rowan counties.  If you have questions about connecting to the videoconference, please contact Johnna McHugh at 502-782-6703.

Anyone who wants to attend the June 9 meeting by video conferencing can join the meeting from his or her computer, tablet or smartphone by visiting this link: https://global.gotomeeting.com/join/601948397

Anyone who wants to attend the June 9 meeting by telephone can join the meeting by dialing: 1 (872) 240-3311.  Please use access code: 601-948-397

AGENDA

  • Welcome
  • Call for nominations for Area 8 Commissioner
  • Voting for Area 8 Commissioner
  • Adjourn

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Forests Feel Impact of Late-Season Freeze

Even in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, there’s a new and concerning malady that has thrown Kentucky’s Forest Health a double-punch – the impact of late-season hard freeze on trees and vegetation. The Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet’s Division of Forestry has been monitoring the damage, and it appears to be statewide in scope.

“The impacts are startling when you see them,” said Brandon Howard, division environmental control manager whose team inspected the damage. “We’ve had a number of inquiries asking what the phenomenon is. There’s a distinct difference you can see in many of the tree lines.”

With early spring-like temperatures this year, many forest trees had begun to leaf out. Then, as unseasonably cold temperatures arrived in mid-April, and a heavy freeze struck the state in early May, many of those trees unfortunately experienced leaf loss; some were hit twice.

The division was actively surveying damage in eastern Kentucky when a local graduate student noticed definitive changes in the tree line near the Land Between the Lakes in western Kentucky. Photos were sent to the U.S. Forest Service in Atlanta which contacted Kentucky’s Division of Forestry. Local foresters in Madisonville were deployed on site.

“We have a really good working relationship with the U.S. Forest Service, Forest Health Protection Program,” said Abe Nielsen, an environmental control supervisor with boots on the ground. “The initial concern was an influx of damaging insects or disease, but we were all relieved to confirm it was due to the unusual weather conditions.”

Division crews then realized the damage was statewide. “Most of the state has been impacted,” Nielsen confirmed, “but because the growing season tends to be about two weeks further along in western Kentucky than in the eastern part of the state, different trees have been effected.”

Trees that escaped damage had developed early due to the warm March weather Kentucky experienced, and were already well-established. Others had not yet begun budding, and as a result were also safe. Those most susceptible were trees in the process of establishing new leaves. In eastern Kentucky for example, yellow poplar and sycamore, and understory species like spice bush, were hit hard. In western Kentucky, bottomland oaks took the brunt as cold temperatures stayed in the lower elevations. (See drone footage from Estill County: https://youtu.be/9T1be7YPl1A.)

Private land owners may have also seen damage to trees or ornamentals. Those that were in the process of flowering may produce less fruit and may not grow as much this year. Stress over time, like last season’s drought, added to this year’s freeze, could also affect some species. These added stressors could result in minor decline in some localized areas, but overall the trees should be fine.

“This event put things on pause. But trees are very resilient and they should bounce back pretty quickly,” Nielsen said. The US Forest Service’s near-real-time satellite imagery currently shows a 10-15 percent reduction in the greenness of tree canopies in much of Kentucky compared to this time last year (https://bit.ly/2Z6Bgwk). “This will likely just put us a few weeks behind. With warmer, more seasonable temperatures expected in the weeks ahead, we shouldn’t see any lasting effects.”

This is just one of many influences on Kentucky’s forest health the division will monitor. Invasive species and insects like the emerald ash borer and hemlock wooly adelgid have and will prove much more damaging, Nielsen said. “This is definitely unusual to see, and we’ll monitor the impact over time. But it’s one of many components. Seems like every year gets a little more interesting!”

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EPA Awards $1.7 Million in Brownfield Grants To Kentucky Communities

Assessment grants to benefit contaminated properties with redevelopment potential

FRANKFORT, Ky. (May 11, 2020) – Gov. Andy Beshear and Energy and Environment Cabinet Secretary Rebecca Goodman announced today that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has selected five projects to receive $1.7 million in brownfield assessment grant funding.

“Even as we make sacrifices to protect the health and lives of our fellow Kentuckians during the coronavirus pandemic, these grants show our collective desire to move forward, to rebuild and to make our communities stronger,” Gov. Beshear said.

Gov. Beshear launched the Healthy at Work initiative in late April to guide the smart, safe and gradual reopening of the state’s economy. The initiative sets out public health benchmarks for reopening Kentucky’s economy. These benchmarks closely follow the White House’s Guidelines for Reopening America.

The grants, which are awarded through a competitive national review process, will help communities inventory, assess and plan the cleanup and redevelopment of properties that are contaminated or suspected of being contaminated. Brownfield funding is important for restoring economic prosperity to properties and communities where blight and neglect have created environmental, economic and social inequality.

Community-wide assessment grants were awarded to:

  • Kentucky River Area Development District (KRADD) Hazard, KY – $300,000
  • City of Frankfort, KY – $300,000
  • Louisville / Jefferson County Metro Government – $300,000
  • Northern Kentucky Area Development District (NKADD) Florence, KY – $300,000

A Coalition Assessment Grant was awarded to:

  • Middlesboro Main Street / City of Middlesboro / City of Pineville – $500,000

Brownfields include sites such as old factories, abandoned hospitals, former service stations, mine-scarred lands and other properties where its former use has left environmental impacts. Assessment of these properties helps remove a barrier for redevelopment as it takes away the unknowns for those who may want to reuse a site for a business or a public space.

“These grants will enable these Kentucky communities to assess the cost and steps needed to reuse contaminated properties, which will stimulate economic development, protect the environment and improve the lives of the people living in these communities,” said Cabinet Secretary Goodman.

Since 2007, Kentucky communities, with help from the Kentucky Brownfield Redevelopment Program, have received over $16 million in EPA brownfield grants to help assess and remediate the estimated 8,000 brownfield properties in the commonwealth. The program offers assessments, grant review services, technical assistance and brownfield grant writing education to those communities and organizations that wish to revitalize properties with an environmental past.

“The Kentucky Brownfield Program has worked hard throughout the years to help communities, large and small, access this vital funding. This funding has historically been used as a catalyst for job creation and community enhancement. I hope this will allow our communities to continue to dream of what can be even when things are tough,” said Amanda LeFevre, Director of the Division of Compliance Assistance.

For more information about these grant recipients, go to https://www.epa.gov/brownfields/brownfields-fact-sheet-summary-all-fy16-grant-awardees.

If you are interested in brownfield revitalization and brownfield grants, contact the Kentucky Brownfield Redevelopment Program at 502-782-6189 or envhelp@ky.gov. To read more about brownfield sites that have been cleaned and put back into productive reuse, go to: https://eec.ky.gov/Environmental-Protection/brownfields/Pages/brownfield-resources-and-education.aspx  for links under Kentucky Case Studies.

Keep up with information from Gov. Beshear and his administration about the Covid-19 pandemic at governor.ky.gov, kycovid19.ky.gov and on the Governor’s official social media accounts Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

 

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Energy and Environment Cabinet Announces $600,000 in Energy Program Grants

Funding will support education, low-income communities, and energy security

FRANKFORT, Ky. (May 13, 2020) – Governor Andy Beshear and Energy and Environment Cabinet (EEC) Secretary Rebecca Goodman today announced more than $600,000 in U.S. Department of Energy State Energy Program (SEO) grants will support Kentucky education, reduce the energy burden in low-income communities, and improve energy security.

The federal program provides annual funding to enhance energy security, advance state-led energy initiatives, and maximize the benefits of decreasing energy waste.

“Even as we are doing everything that we can to protect the ones we love during the Coronavirus, these grants will enable Kentuckian’s to make better choices that will save them money and lead to a more sustainable energy future,” Gov. Beshear said.

Gov. Beshear launched the Healthy at Work initiative in late April to guide the smart, safe and gradual reopening of the state’s economy. The initiative sets out public health benchmarks for reopening Kentucky’s economy.

Nine Kentucky organizations will contract with the EEC to deliver energy programs funded through the State Energy Program. Projects will begin later this year, pending contract legislative review and approval.

“We are pleased to announce these new initiatives that provide long-term benefits to the citizens of Kentucky,” said Sec. Goodman.  “Affordable electricity is a primary driver of our economy and essential for the wellbeing of everyone.  Now more than ever in this time of the coronavirus pandemic, it is important to ensure continuing affordability and resilience of Kentucky’s energy resources, and to invest in energy education that integrates new technologies and practices in areas that support our infrastructure and families.”

The organizations and projects that have received SEP grant awards are:

  • University of Kentucky Center For Applied Energy Research, $182,000, to develop the second-year Electric Vehicle STEM project in middle schools across Kentucky.
  • National Energy Education Development (NEED) Project, $75,000, to support Kentucky’s schools through student energy team training, teacher workshops, student energy awards.
  • Bluegrass Greensource, $70,000, to support energy efficiency education in under-served populations, preschool energy curriculum, Green Lab for preschool learners, and science fair student assistance.
  • Mountain Association for Community Economic Development (MACED), $50,000, to support the energy efficiency audits for addiction recovery centers, non-profits, and small businesses in the Appalachian region.
  • Habitat for Humanity, $67,000, to support low-income families through energy efficiency measures including ENERGY star appliance upgrades, Home Energy Rater certification for construction specialists, and Structural Insulated Panel training
  • Smart Electric Power Alliance (SEPA), $67,000, will conduct a Regional Microgrid Study to support resilience efforts across the Commonwealth.
  • Bracken County Regional Energy Resilience Survey $25,000, to explore the intersection of energy vulnerabilities at critical facilities at the local level.
  • American Concrete Institute Kentucky Chapter for education on Insulated Concrete Form (ICF) for Resiliency Training initiative.
  • Home Development Alliance, $15,000, to provide Home Energy Rating for energy efficiency, and ENERGY STAR Heating and Ventilation Equipment rebates in underserved communities.

The EEC will also conduct a feasibility study to determine if reclaimed mine lands are suitable for renewable energy projects and develop a data-site portal for use by renewable energy developers and economic development.

For more information about programs of the Kentucky Office of Energy Policy, contact Kenya Stump, Executive Director Office of Energy Policy, Kenya.Stump@ky.gov.

Keep up with information from Gov. Beshear and his administration about the Covid-19 pandemic at governor.ky.gov, kycovid19.ky.gov and on the Governor’s official social media accounts Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

 

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Kentucky Reclamation Guaranty Fund Commission to Meet May 12

Video conference will start at 1 p.m.

FRANKFORT, Ky. (May 11, 2020) – The Kentucky Reclamation Guaranty Fund Commission will hold its quarterly meeting May 12, 2020 at 1 p.m. EDT by video conference. If you have questions about connecting to the video conference, please contact Danielle Crosman at 502-782-6590.

To join the meeting from your computer, tablet or smartphone:  https://global.gotomeeting.com/join/763660021

You can also dial in using your phone. United States: +1 (571) 317-3122 Access Code: 763-660-021

Agenda: 

  • Call to order and roll call
  • Welcome and opening remarks
  • Approval of the minutes from Feb. 27, 2020 meeting
  • Discussion of draft actuarial study: Pinnacle Actuarial Services
  • AML funding requests:
    Blue Gem Mining, Inc.   918-0460
    Rio Mining, LLC             895-0195
    LA Energy, LLC             836-5516
    Ikerd Mining, LLC          861-5344
  • DNR update: Gordon Slone, DNR commissioner
  • Other Business:
    Financial reports, bond amounts and delinquent fees
    Audit update
    Staff update
  • Schedule next meeting and adjournment