Floyds Fork TMDL

On the outskirts of Louisville (as seen in the map above), in the eastern part of Jefferson County, and through and portions of Henry, Oldham, Shelby, Spencer, and Bullitt County, spans the Floyds Fork watershed.  Floyds Fork itself is a creek 62 miles long, and flows southwest through those counties and into the Salt River.  The watershed’s collective size is 284 square miles (a bit over a quarter of the size of the Great Smoky Mountain National Park).

Floyds Fork has historical importance to Louisville, but is also very important in the present day area.  In fact, in the past two decades, multiple community efforts have attempted to increase protections for the creek and the watershed.  At the same time, it was recognized that there were pollution concerns.  The watershed is home to a number of wastewater and sewage treatment and packaging facilities known to nutrient pollution and sewage issues in portions of the watershed.

At one time, KWA had grant money to help coordinate a watershed plan, but eventually, that process was cut short.  Fast forward 10 years, and the EPA and Kentucky Division of Water determined that they needed to return to the watershed and develop a solution to the nutrient problem (in order to comply with the Clean Water Act).  They decided that a Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) needed to be developed for the nutrient impairment of Floyds Fork.

In Fall 2011, DOW began a public outreach process to increase public awareness and access to the work on the nutrient TMDL.  KWA began participating in the public meetings for the project, and also was invited to join a Technical Advisory Committee, composed of important community stakeholders.  Through our participating in these various forums, we’ve been able to keep tabs on the project, ensure that it is proceeding with the public’s best interests at heart, and with good information.

The TMDL is still a ways off from being fully developed–it will likely be late 2014 before DOW has a final proposal to submit.  When finalized, the TMDL will do one main thing.  For all point sources of wastewater discharges, like wastewater treatment plants, they will be assigned a daily maximum discharge limit for phosphorus and nitrogen.  This will help reduce nutrient pollution, specifically from point sources, to levels that the stream can tolerate.  The TMDL will not, however, result in any form of regulation of general urban land, or agriculture, which are considered non-point sources of pollution.  The Clean Water Act does not regulate non-point sources, so any reductions in nutrient pollution from these sources will have to come from voluntary efforts from everyday citizens, and from businesses and developers.