Posts Tagged 'water quality'

New monitoring efforts to track water quality improvements in KY and 11 other states

A task force of federal and state officials announced Wednesday two new efforts to monitor water quality through reductions in nutrients in Kentucky and 11 other states flowing from farms and other sources into local waterways that reach the Mississippi River and ultimately the Gulf of Mexico.

The Mississippi River/Gulf of Mexico Watershed Nutrient (Hypoxia) Task Force, which began in 1997, set up the Mississippi River Monitoring Collaborative to analyze data from the states to see which conservation practices are working and where “new strategies” are needed, according to a news release.

The monitoring efforts will specifically track nitrogen and phosphorus throughout the watershed, according to the release.

Nutrient runoff from agricultural, urban and industrial sources has polluted waterways for decades and contributed to a hypoxic zone in the Gulf of Mexico – an area of low oxygen that is largely uninhabitable by fish and other marine life, the release said.

The Task Force consists of five federal agencies, 12 states and the tribes within the Mississippi/Atchafalaya River Basin.  For more information, visit


Worth reading: ‘7 billion: What to expect when you are expanding’

As the world’s population expands — a United Nations report says we will reach 7 billion people on Monday — has been exploring issues of population growth and the environment with a series titled, 7 billion: What to Expect When You are Expanding.

I recommend some not-so-light reading for the weekend.

They are tackling some heavy topics, from Three’s a crowd: Is it unethical to have more than two children  and We can feed 10 billion of us, study finds — but it won’t  be easy to An indigenous take on family planning and population and much more.

So in between the parties this weekend and the kids’ trick-or-treating, check it out. It’s food for thought, and discussion.

— Linda J.

Town Branch story on Kentucky Educational Television

This just in — from Van Meter Pettit:

At long last we have our documentary complete and ready to air on KET! We are excited to have come this far. We look forward to sharing it with the community. Please check the schedule below and set your recorders, or if you are like me and don’t know how to do that, well, just watch it.

We do have DVD’s for sale if you are interested.

We are also pleased to announce that our partners Bluegrass PRIDE will be using the video and curriculum in classrooms across the region.

Please spread the word.

Thanks all,

Van Meter Pettit

KET scheduling text below:

Town Branch: Lexington’s Historic Watershed

A look at the origins, history, and future of the historic waterway that runs under Lexington, including a local initiative to educate the public about stream health and create a greenway trail for pedestrians and bicyclists.

TV Schedule
Upcoming Airdates:

KETKY: Saturday, July 3 at 9:30 am EDT
KETKY: Monday, July 5 at 5:00 am EDT
KETKY: Monday, July 5 at 4:00 pm EDT
KETKY: Wednesday, July 7 at 8:00 pm EDT
KETKY: Friday, July 9 at 5:00 pm EDT
KETKY: Saturday, July 10 at 9:30 am EDT
KETKY: Sunday, July 11 at 4:31 pm EDT
KETKY: Saturday, July 17 at 1:00 pm EDT
KET2: Friday, July 30 at 10:30 pm EDT
KET: Saturday, July 31 at 4:30 am EDT
KETKY: Thursday, August 5 at 5:00 pm EDT
KETKY: Saturday, August 7 at 9:30 am EDT
KETKY: Monday, August 9 at 6:30 pm EDT
KETKY: Sunday, August 22 at 4:00 am EDT

Canoe the Green River — and leave it cleaner

Here’s a chance to see Kentucky’s beautiful Green River from a canoe and leave it ever more beautifulL

On June 19, The Nature Conservancy – with help from Crystal Light and Big Buffalo Crossing Canoe & Kayak – will host The Green River Fest, an organized clean-up of the Green River at Thelma Stovall Park in Munfordville.. Event participants will receive a canoe and trash bags to help clean up the river’s shore as they paddle along. Each canoe will cover a 10-mile stretch of the river.

Organizers promise entertainment, a chance to win prizes, T-shirts and refreshments.

To find out more, and reserve a spot, go to

Clearing the water, and mosquitoes, at McConnell Springs

A just-completed construction project at McConnell Springs near downtown Lexington was designed to improve water quality in the park’s unusual system of springs — and downstream.
If things go well, it also could mean the end of the “Mosquito Meter.”
The meter is a sign with a moveable arrow that employees put out on days when the blood-sucking insects are especially bad.
“A healthy aquatic system provides the fish, insects and other things that help take care of the mosquitoes,” said Charles Martin, director of the city’s water quality division, on a visit to the park Monday.
When warm weather comes and new trees and plants have been put in, McConnell Springs Stormwater Quality Wetland Pond Project will look like just another nature exhibit.
But it’s actually a state-of-the-art pollution abatement system, the heart of which is an underground device called a Suntree Nutrient Separating Baffle Box.
The box — essentially a large basket that must occasionally be emptied, is the first line of defense against the runoff from more than 100 acres of industrial and residential development in the Forbes Road area that flows into the east end of the park.
The box will catch the big stuff — plastic bottles, sticks and other trash. (During heavy rains, an above-ground metal gate will trap trash.)
Then the runoff flows through a series of three ponds and into a larger pond/wetland area. By the time water leaves the wetland, it should have lost most of the the lawn chemicals, and highway oil and grease it came in with.
The project is part of an effort by the federal Environmental Protection Agency to help cities deal with what is called non-point pollution. That’s pollution from many places instead of, for example, an pipe that comes out of a factory.
It cost $524,000. About 60 percent of the money came from the EPA, the rest from the city. When the project was announced in June, Mayor Jim Newberry called it “an example of how we’re trying to address our storm water and sanitary sewage that have long polluted our local springs.”
The project has been around since 2004, but serious work on it only began in 2008, Martin said. The work since then has been, for government, lightning fast, he said. He credited help from a number of federal, state and local agencies, as well as citizens’ groups such as the Friends of Wolf Run.
Because it is a demonstration project, plenty of people — from school children to groups of engineers — will visit it and learn how it works.
McConnell Springs already gets a lot of visitors because it is an excellent example of the region’s natural underground plumbing.
Water from as far as two miles away bubbles up in a spring called the Blue Hole, then goes back underground, then comes up in another spring called the Boils. Again it goes under, then comes up in Preston Cave, and eventually flows into Wolf Run Creek.
Members of the Friends of Wolf Run monitored the construction. Ken Cooke, a leader of the group, said the city’s management of the project showed that large construction jobs can be done in winter months without silt and sediment problems.
When heavy downpours come this spring, volunteers from the Friends group will rush out in the rain to help monitor how the project works with a fresh wave of runoff coming in.
“We’re not afraid to get wet,” Cooke said.

Lexington sewer rates rise, but few understand the reasons why

Lexington sewer rates rise, but few understand the reasons why
By Andy Mead –
Paying for sewers is taking an increasing bite out of the wallets of Lexington residents, but most of us are blissfully unaware of what is going on beneath our feet.
A survey commissioned by local officials shows, for example, that three out of four people don’t know the difference between sanitary and storm sewers.
(In the sanitary sewer system, water from a toilet, sink or shower goes into one set of pipes and then to a treatment plant before reaching a creek. Rainwater that runs off lawns and driveways goes into the storm sewer system, then directly into a creek.)

Officials released the survey Thursday as they announced a new education campaign to explain how sewers work.
The action comes as sewer costs are rising significantly.
Sanitary-sewer fees have doubled in the last 18 months. The average homeowner now pays $10 a month.
Starting in January, a new storm-sewer fee kicks in. It will be $4.32 a month for single-family homes, duplexes and farm parcels. Everyone else, including stores, factories, school and churches, would pay $4.32 for every 2,500 square feet of roof, driveway, parking lot or other impervious surface.
Behind the higher fees is a court order requiring the city to fix sewer problems that have been neglected for decades.
Over the next dozen years, the city will have to spend $250 million to $300 million after reaching a settlement with the Environmental Protection Agency. The EPA had sued the city, saying its aging sewer systems were polluting creeks in violation of the Clean Water Act.
While more money for sewers is coming from residents’ pockets, many people are continuing to do things that contribute to the problem.
The new education program, which will feature a talking storm sewer, will advise people that pet waste, oil, trash, grease, lawn chemicals and other things that wash into storm drains end up as pollution in creeks.
The program will begin with a Web site, as well as television and print ads.
“We simply cannot do the job of cleaning up our streams and rivers without public involvement and support,” Mayor Jim Newberry said.
The news conference was held in Valley Park, which has Wolf Run Creek along one side. The creek often is littered with trash that washes in. Although the water flowing through the park was clear Thursday, the creek bottom was covered with algae. That, said Susan Bush, the city’s director of environmental policy, shows that too many nutrients are washing in from lawns, streets and parking lots.
Urban County Councilwoman Peggy Henson, who represents the district that includes the park, said she often has to warn children that they should not play in the creek because it’s polluted.
Officials said they were surprised and worried about responses to the survey.
More than half of those who responded, for example, did not know which watershed they live in, and 29 percent said they do not live in a watershed.
In fact, everyone lives in a watershed, the area where rain runs to a particular river or creek. There are nine watersheds in Fayette County.
In response to another question from the survey, 84 percent of people with school-age children said they didn’t recall their children ever coming home and telling them something they had learned about storm water.
For that reason, the city will work with Bluegrass PRIDE on an education program in local schools.

To learn more about water quality and sewer issues in Lexington, go to The site contains activities for kids, a list of activities, information on how to report polluters, and a place to watch videos and upload your own.

Reach Andy Mead at (859) 231-3319 or 1-800-950-6397, Ext. 3319.