Water Quality Overview

Water Quality InformationKDOW

The KDOW Water Quality Branch is responsible for monitoring and assessing the water quality of the Commonwealth’s streams, rivers, lakes, and wetlands.  The branch develops and reviews water quality standards, classifies surface waters for designated uses (e.g., cold water aquatic habitat and outstanding state resource waters), reports on the state’s water quality in the 305(b) Integrated Report, and creates Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) documents.

Branch staff also serve as scientific advisors for the Division of Water on emerging water quality issues and the review of technical and scientific reports and data.

Link to the KDOW Water Quality webpage.


The Watershed Management Branch provides leadership for comprehensive planning and analysis of water quality and quantity, on a watershed basis.  The branch coordinates the Watershed Management Framework, through which watersheds are targeted for planning and implementation.  The branch also develops and implements nonpoint source pollution control programs, inventories water sources, issues water withdrawal permits and provides technical support for water management planning, including source water protection.

The Watershed Management Branch administers the Water Watch program and provides support to the Watershed Watch program, through which citizens across the state monitor stream and lake conditions.

Link to KDOW’s Watershed webpage to learn more about the basin watershed planning areas near you.


Kentucky’s Water Health Guide


Kentucky’s Water Health Guide is a summary of the current and historic conditions, activities, trends and impacts on the health of the rivers and streams that flow through the Commonwealth.

This report describes the natural conditions of the streams and lakes in Kentucky, such as the types of rocks and soils, the land features, the types of vegetation, the quality of the water and how it moves.  It also describes the human activities and influences, such as: building and maintenance of homes, businesses, and industries; raising of crops and livestock; treatment of human waste; recreational activities; timber cutting; mining; construction and maintenance of water lines, sewer lines, roads, pipelines, and other types of infrastructure that support human populations.

All of these conditions and activities have an effect on the water that moves over and through the land as it drains into the streams and rivers.  This determines the quality of the water and influences the health of the waterways.  This report provides information about these influences and the water quality in Kentucky.

Click on Kentucky’s Water Health Guide to learn about all those topics and so much more!


Flood Resilience: A Basic Guide for Water and Wastewater Utilities

EPA’s tool, Flood Resilience: A Basic Guide for Water and Wastewater Utilities was designed for small and medium drinking water and utilities and includes interactive worksheets, instructional videos, and flood maps. With a user-friendly layout, embedded videos, and flood maps to guide you, EPA’s Flood Resilience Guide is your one-stop resource to protect your critical assets.

Link to Tool.

Download the EPA Fact Sheet  – Build Flood Resilience at Your Water Utility.


New EPA Tool Helps Communities Access More Than $10 Billion in Water Infrastructure Financing

July 26, 2017

New EPA tool gives communities access to information and financing opportunities that will help improve water quality and protect public health.   

The EPA is launching the Water Finance Clearinghouse, a web‐based portal to help communities make informed financing decisions for their drinking water, wastewater, and stormwater infrastructure needs. The Clearinghouse provides communities with a searchable database with more than $10 billion in water funding sources and over 550 resources to support local water infrastructure projects.  It consolidates and expands upon existing EPA-supported databases to create a one-stop-shop for all community water finance needs.  The Water Finance Clearinghouse was developed by EPA’s Water Infrastructure and Resiliency Finance Center, an information and assistance center that provides financing information to help local decision makers make informed decisions for drinking water, wastewater, and stormwater infrastructure to reach their public health and environmental goals.

Many communities around the country have aging or inadequate water infrastructure: each year approximately 240,000 main breaks occur while elsewhere billions of gallons of raw sewage are discharged into local surface waters from aging conveyance systems.  Communities increasingly need efficient access to up-to-date water finance information to rehabilitate or replace their water infrastructure.  EPA’s new Water Finance Clearinghouse meets this need.

The Water Finance Clearinghouse gives local decision makers an opportunity to search for available funding sources for water infrastructure as well as resources (such as reports, webpages, and webinars) on financing mechanisms and approaches that can help communities access capital to meet their water infrastructure needs. State, federal, local, and foundation funding sources and resources on public-private partnerships, asset management practices, revenue models, and affordability approaches are included in the Clearinghouse.

The Water Finance Clearinghouse is updated in real-time, following a crowdsourcing model.  States, federal agencies, and other water sector stakeholders have the ability to suggest edits and new resources or funding options at any time through the Contributor Portal.  Stakeholders can use this interactive feature to manage how their programs and initiatives are displayed in the Clearinghouse.

More information on the Clearinghouse, visit:  https://www.epa.gov/waterfinancecenter/water-finance-clearinghouse.


MS4 permit writers …

June 2017

Do you want to know which Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) permits have provisions for pesticides, metals, mercury, pH, temperature, oil and grease, trash, DDT, PCBs, marine debris, acid mine drainage, nutrients, sediment, pathogens, dissolved oxygen, or chloride?  EPA has released a new compendium of MS4 permits that include water quality-based requirements for specific pollutant parameters that are consistent with approved Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDLs) and protecting designated uses.

EPA reviewed existing state and EPA permits and identified different ways of implementing TMDLs through quantitative requirements or pollutant-specific management measures, or a combination of both.  EPA gleaned examples of how permitting authorities measured progress of implementation of water quality-based requirements through review and approval of implementation plans, monitoring/modeling, and reporting requirements.  EPA also include examples of water quality-based requirements related to discharges to impaired waters without approved TMDLs.

This compendium is third in the MS4 Permit Compendium series.  These compendia feature examples from existing MS4 permits of clear, specific and measurable requirements:

Check out the new compendium for examples of how these pollutants are addressed in MS4 permits.


Nationwide Permits to Be Renewed by Division of Water

April 5, 2017

Every five years, the United States Army Corps’ of Engineers (USACE) issues a series of general Nationwide Permits (NWPs) to authorize federally permitted activities under Section 404 of the Clean Water Act (CWA) and Section 10 of the Rivers and Harbors Act of 1899.

These general permits are used for smaller projects that are determined to cause minimal environmental impacts.  The current Nationwide Permits expired on March 18, 2017.  The USACE issued and finalized new NWPs on January 6, 2017 that went into effect on March 19, 2017.  The new NWPs will expire on March 18, 2022.  Federal regulation 33 CFR §330.4(c) states that “401 water quality certification pursuant to section 401 of the Clean Water Act, or waiver thereof, is required prior to the issuance or reissuance of NWPs authorizing activities which may result in a discharge into waters of the United States”.

In response, the Kentucky Division of Water (DOW) issued corresponding general certifications to these NWPs.  The Water Quality Certification Section (WQC) at the DOW issues WQCs in accordance with Section 401 of the CWA.  The 401 Section of the CWA authorizes states and tribes to certify that the USACE 404 and Section 10 permits will comply with applicable water quality standards.

The commonwealth of Kentucky has three options with all the NWPs.

  1. Certify as is, meaning that the conditions that need to be met for DOW’s 401 WQC program are the same as the USACE’s NWPs.
  2. Certify the NWPs with conditions, meaning that the commonwealth of Kentucky has additional conditions to qualify for the NWP and/or criteria that must be met, on top of the conditions listed by the USACE NWP.
  3. Deny a NWP.  This means that an individual 401 WQC will be required for all projects under that NWP.

Limited changes were made to Division’s NWPs.

  • NWP 12 Utility Line Backfill and Bedding, NWP 14 Linear Transportation Projects, and NWP 37 Emergency Watershed Protection and Rehabilitation had conditions that were modified for clarity, but that do not change the purpose or applicability of the condition.
  • NWP 12 Utility Line Backfill and Bedding and NWP 14 Linear Transportation Projects were modified to include a condition stating that “crossings must be constructed in a manner that does not impede natural water flow”, in order to prevent stream obstruction and impoundment.
  • NWP 23 Approved Categorical Exclusions was modified to include language to clarify what can qualify for this permit, as well as, adding a condition that the project must not impact more than ½ acre of wetland to be consistent with other NWPs.  We also added language from the USACE’s NWP 23 to clarify what projects may be included.
  • One condition was added to the General Conditions for the State of KY:
    • Projects requiring in-stream stormwater detention/retention basins shall require individual water quality certifications in order to align with KPDES requirements.

Link to:  Full listing of all 54 of the USACE’s NWPshttp://www.usace.army.mil/Missions/Civil-Works/Regulatory-Program-and-Permits/Nationwide-Permits/2017_NWP_FinalDD/


Route to Resilience 2018 for Drinking Water and Wastewater Utilities


Maintaining and repairing aging drinking water infrastructure remains a significant challenge for the water sector.  Utilities must be able to increase their readiness and resilience to potential all-hazard incidents and adapt to future hazards that may impact their ability to provide safe and clean drinking water.

EPA isreleased Route to Resilience (RtoR) tool that will help small and medium sized drinking water and wastewater utilities learn more about becoming resilient to all-hazards such as floods, tornadoes, hurricanes and contamination incidents.  The interactive desktop application guides utilities through 5 stops along the Route to Resilience — Assess, Plan, Train, Respond, and Recover. RtoR also provides utilities with a custom report that highlights products and tools that will help utilities on their path to resilience.

To download the tool, please visit: https://www.epa.gov/waterresilience/route-resilience-drinking-water-and-wastewater-utilities.




KAMM mailing address: KAMM, PO Box 1016, Frankfort, KY 40602-1016.  

Have questions, contact us at help@kymitigation.org.