EPA Unveils Draft Model for Floyds Fork Watershed

by Erica Peterson on February 22, 2012

Federal regulators are one step closer to finishing a complicated model for the Floyds Fork watershed. The Environmental Protection Agency’s model will help the commonwealth improve water quality in the area.

Representatives from the EPA’s Region 4 office first came to Louisville in August to talk about their upcoming work on Floyds Fork.

The Floyds Fork watershed is huge, and covers parts of Jefferson and five other counties. The area has been designated as “impaired” by pollution, which means the waterway can’t fulfill its designated functions, like recreation. This is especially problematic as work begins on a massive park system in the area.

Now, the EPA has finished a draft model of the watershed, which takes into account water flow and different sources of pollution. Chris Thomas of the EPA’s Region 4 office says the next step is to combine the model with another model that takes into account how reducing one pollutant affects other parts of the watershed.

“That’ll help the state of Kentucky make decisions about if you make a change, how will that affect the water quality and how will that help everyone get to the water quality endpoints that Kentucky has set for the watershed,” Thomas said.

Once the EPA has finished its models, it’ll be up to the state Division of Water to calculate the maximum amount of pollution that the watershed can take while still meeting water quality standards.

Teena Halbig is the co-president of the Floyds Fork Environmental Association. She says she’s happy with the process so far, but wishes the EPA would consider also looking at heavy metals in the waterways. Right now, the agency is focusing on nutrients, which includes nitrates and phosphorus.

“It’s up to us to make the points that these are things that we would like for them to look at and point them to where the things are documented that they can look at, the water quality studies that have been done,” Halbig said.

The EPA plans to hold another meeting to update residents on the plan in June.

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