Federal and state agencies are a step closer to setting new pollution limits for the Floyds Fork watershed. Government officials updated residents and business owners on the process tonight at Eastern High School.
Floyds Fork has been designated as “impaired,” which means the waterway can’t fulfill its designated functions, like recreation. The state Division of Water has asked the EPA to help determine the maximum amount of pollution that can be discharged into the watershed without exceeding the state water quality standard.
The EPA has begun constructing a model of the watershed. Chris Thomas of the EPA’s Region 4 branch of water protection says it’s meant to aid the commonwealth in calculating the pollution limit.
“The model is used to put all of the flow of the watershed together with everything that’s going on in the watershed,” he said. “It will help us understand how the nutrients are processed in the watershed and where they’re all coming from and how it all works and fits together.”
The model is only halfway done—the EPA has finished modeling aspects like where water flows, and tributaries that feed into Floyds Fork. The next step is to include all the existing sources of pollution and calculate how they affect the water quality.
Peter Goodman is the Assistant Director of the Kentucky Division of Water. He says another important aspect is getting feedback from people who live and work in the area, and find out how they want to use the waterways. Goodman says one of the purposes of the meeting was to explain the stakeholder process to people, but not necessarily to start answering questions.
“There will be some back and forth, but it’s fairly limited in this forum to ask a few questions and get some things answered,” he said. “And I think to really get that in-depth back-and-forth, I think that stakeholder process is going to facilitate more of that.”
That process involves individual stakeholder interviews, focus groups and an open house. The next general meeting is scheduled for January or February.