FAQ

KWA does so many different things, it can be difficult to keep track of it all. Hopefully these questions and answers will help.

What is 319?
The 1987 amendments to the Clean Water Act (CWA) established the Section 319 Nonpoint Source Management Program. Under Section 319, states, territories and tribes receive grant money that supports a wide variety of activities including technical assistance, financial assistance, education, training, technology transfer, demonstration projects and monitoring to assess the success of specific nonpoint source implementation projects. Some of KWA’s funding for watershed planning projects comes from the 319 program at the Kentucky Division of Water. Back To Top

What is antidegradation?
Antidegradation is part of the Clean Water Act that calls for all existing uses to be protected, for degradation to be avoided or at least minimized when water quality meets or exceeds levels necessary to support the propagation of fish, shellfish, and wildlife and recreation on and in the water, and for the quality of outstanding waters to be maintained and protected. Back To Top

What is the Clean Water Act (CWA)?
The Clean Water Act was passed in 1972 with the overall objective being to restore and maintain the chemical, physical and bilogical integrity of the nation’s water.  Goals and Policys of the Act: (1) discharge of pollutants into the navigable waters be eliminated (2) provide protection and propagation of fish, shellfish, and wildlife and provides for recreation in and on the water (3) discharge of toxic pollutants in toxic amounts be prohibited (4) Federal financial assistance be provided to construct publicly owned waste treatment works (5) areawide waste treatment management planning processes be developed and implemented (6) major research and demonstration effort be made to develop technology necessary to eliminate the discharge of pollutants into the navigable waters, waters of the contiguous zone, and the oceans (7) programs for the control of nonpoint sources of pollution be developed and implemented in a prompt manner. Back To Top

What are designated uses?
Human uses and ecological conditions that are officially recognized and protected. States must designate one or more uses for each water body.  Water uses identified in water quality standards must be achieved and maintained as required under the Clean Water Act.  In Kentucky, the official designated uses include Warm Water Aquatic Habitat (WAH), Cold Water Aquatic Habitat (CAH), Primary Contact Recreation (PCR), Secondary Contact Recreation (SCR), Domestic Water Supply (DWS), and Outstanding State Resource Water (OSRW). Back To Top

What is the Guidebook?
The Watershed Planning Guidebook for Kentucky Communities, first edition, was published in 2010. Often referred to as just the “Guidebook,” it is the product of a Kentucky Division of Water 319 grant project that allowed Kentucky Waterways Alliance to work with communities in Kentucky to create a Kentucky-specific manual to watershed planning. It is meant to be a tool for any group in the state regardless of their size, motivation, level of experience, or funding situation. The Environmental Protection Agency created the Handbook for Developing Watershed Plans to Restore and Protect our Waters that is quite extensive in scope, but not specific to Kentucky. One may access an electronic copy of the Guidebook here. Back To Top

What is a HUC?
HUC stands for Hydrologic Unit Code. It is a standardized watershed classification system developed by the US Geologic Survey. HUCs are watershed boundaries organized by size, and the HUC numbers indicate the size of the watershed. Watersheds comparable in size will have the same number of digits; it’s like an address for the watershed. Bigger watersheds have smaller HUC numbers.  For example, the Middle Kentucky River Basin is  HUC-8: HUC 05100204, and the smaller Clifty Creek is a HUC-12: HUC 051002040205. Back To Top

What is KARF?
In 2009, Kentucky Waterways Alliance began an exciting and groundbreaking partnership with the United States Fish & Wildlife Service’s (USFWS) Kentucky Field Office to administer the Kentucky Aquatic Resource Fund (KARF). KARF provides a way for multiple agencies and partners to contribute funding and other resources to conserve Kentucky’s best places. KWA’s role in the partnership is to act as the financial steward of the fund which supports conservation projects across the state.

The fund exists to ensure that all known impacts to aquatic species are adequately accounted for, and that real conservation and recovery benefits are provided. In practice, that means that KARF supports land preservation agreements and has funds designated to match other grants or programs that support or match our goals.  The fund supports much needed research, surveys, and monitoring of waterways and water quality along with stream and stream/riverbank area management. The funds also supports threatened species propagation and introductions throughout the state and promotes habitat restoration and enhancement through the Best Management Practices installation. Back To Top

What are nonpoint and point sources?
A nonpoint source is a pollution source without a single point of origin or pollution not introduced into a receiving stream from a specific outlet.

A point source is any discernible, confined, and discrete conveyance, including but not limited to, any pipe, ditch, channel, tunnel, conduit, well, discrete fissure, container, rolling stock, concentrated animal feeding operation, landfill leachate collection system, vessel or other floating craft from which pollutants are or may be discharged.  this term does not include return flows from irrigated agriculture storm water runoff. Back To Top

What is NPDES?
National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System or NPDES is a national program under Section 402 of the Clean Water Act which prohibits discharge of pollutants from a point source into waters of the United States unless a permit is issued by EPA, a state, or, where delegated, a tribal government on an Indian reservation. This provision also encourages elimination of pollutant discharges. Kentucky’s version of this program is called the Kentucky Polluted Discharge Elimination System or KPDES. Back To Top

What is a Watershed?
A watershed is all of the land that drains to a particular body of water, like a river or stream, when it rains or snows. The boundaries of each watershed are determined by the lay of the land, and the highest elevation points are the boundaries. What happens to the land and water in your watershed determines the quality of your drinking water, the strength of your ecosystem, and the health of everything that depends on water in your neighborhood – including you! Back To Top

What is a Watershed Group?
A watershed group, or team, is a group of people working for their watershed. There are different types of groups – some organize around a particular issue and some work toward more general goals. A group can meet regularly or just a few times a year. A group doesn’t need expertise or funding, but local knowledge of a waterway is important. Watershed planning projects that are funded through the Kentucky Division of Water 319 grant program typically need to have a local watershed group to help facilitate the proposed project. Kentucky Waterways Alliance strives to promote and encourage all types of watershed groups. Back To Top

What is Watershed Planning?
Watershed planning is looking at a waterway and the land around it and figuring out how to best protect and restore it. This can mean writing an actual document about the watershed – its issues and how best to address them. Or it can mean working on behalf of a watershed in a different way like getting community members together to learn about water quality or planning a cleanup. Back To Top

What is Wild & Scenic Film Festival?
Wild & Scenic Film Festival is a national film festival that serves as a call to action. At Wild & Scenic, filmgoers are transformed into a congregation of committed activists, dedicated to saving our increasingly threatened planet. Environmental and adventure films are shown that illustrate the Earth’s beauty, the challenges facing our planet, and the work communities are doing to protect the environment. Through these films, Wild & Scenic both informs people about the state of the world and inspires them to take action. Back To Top

What are the 303(d) list and 305(b) report?
Every two years, Kentucky’s Division of Water is required to submit a report to the EPA, called the “Integrated Report to Congress on Water Quality in Kentucky.”  This report, the “305(b) report”, provides assessments and details regarding the condition of waterways throughout Kentucky.  The 303(d) list is actually a list of waters that are impaired, and that do not meet their designated uses.  Scroll up to read about designated uses! Back To Top

What is a TMDL?
When a waterway is on the 303(d) list, that means its not healthy, and there are certain pollutants that are keeping it from being healthy.  To help fix the problem, a Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) must be developed to limit the amount of that pollutant being put in that waterway each day.  Another way to think about it: when we eat in unhealthy ways, we have to go on a diet to return to good health; so, when a stream becomes unhealthy due to certain pollutants, the stream needs to be put on a pollution diet to return it to good health. Back To Top

What is a 401 Water Quality Certification?
The Clean Water Act has a “Section 401” that requires an applicant for a federal license or permit to provide a certification that any discharges from the facility or project will not result in a violation of state water quality standards. Kentucky Division of Water has the responsibility to develop (and regularly update) water quality standards for pollutants.   Through Section 401, KDOW is also charged with the responsibility of reviewing projects that may impact streams, creeks, rivers, lakes, or wetlands, and to issue 401 Water Quality Certifications (WQC) that confirm whether or not those projects result in violations of the state’s water quality standards.  In Kentucky, though, the Division of Mine Permits separately issues 401 WQCs for surface coal mining projects, so KDOW has no eye over those applications. Back To Top

What is a 404 permit?
The Clean Water Act has a “Section 404” that established a program to regulate the discharge of dredged or fill material into the waters of the United States.  In human terms, this means anyone that might be accidentally or intentionally putting soil, or other material, into a stream, lake, or wetland, must get a permit that authorizes that activity.  This program is administered by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE, or COE, or Corps).  The COE has “districts”, or region-based offices, around the country who each administer a 404 program.  In addition to acquiring the permit, if necessary, applicant’s will be required to perform “mitigation” for the impacts.   This essentially means they will have to either restore, create, or protect additional stream or wetland areas at the impact site, or elsewhere, to compensate for the proposed impacts. Back To Top

What is a 402 KPDES permit?
The Clean Water Act has a “Section 402” that established the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES).  [Notice the word elimination.  That’s because the Clean Water Act originally had a goal to eliminate pollution by 1985.]  The NPDES system provides a framework for states to develop their own regulatory program.  In Kentucky, that’s the Kentucky Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (KPDES).  Kentucky Division of Water also oversees this program.  Any facility that needs to discharge waste water into a stream, like a waste water treatment plant or industrial paper company, must apply for and get a KPDES permit to ensure that the waste water meets state water quality standards. Back To Top

What in the stinky stink is the “Triennial Review”?
Kentucky Division of Water is required to review and propose any necessary changes water quality standards every three years. Back To Top

What are “waters of the United States” (and “waters of the Commonwealth”)?
The Clean Water Act’s programs provide the framework for regulating the discharge of pollutants and impacts to “waters of the U.S,” a term that refers to almost all streams, rivers, lakes, wetlands, and other impoundments that facilitate interstate and intrastate commerce throughout the country, as well as territorial sea.  In Kentucky, the term “waters of the Commonwealth” is used to refer to the same waterways, but just in our state.  Kentucky’s Statutes provide a specific definition for “waters of the Commonwealth”–check that out here. Back To Top

What, or who, is ORSANCO?
From their website, “the Ohio River Sanitation Commission (ORSANCO) was established on June 30, 1948 to control and abate pollution in the Ohio River Basin.  ORSANCO is an interstate commission representing eight states and the federal government.  ORSANCO operates programs to improve water quality in the Ohio River and its tributaries, including setting waste water discharge standards; performing biological assessments; monitoring for the chemical and physical properties of the waterways; and conducting special surveys and studies.”  We keep tabs on ORSANCO’s efforts, and make sure their waste water discharge standards are up to par. Back To Top

What is the Farm Bill?
The Farm Bill is a federal legislative item that governs national agriculture policy.  We’ve had one in the U.S. since 1933, when it was first called the Agricultural Adjustment Act.  The current Farm Bill, called the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act, was actually allowed to expire by Congress in September 2012, but was mostly reauthorized by Congress as part of the fiscal cliff package to start 2013. Back To Top