Transportation Cabinet works to improve environmental awareness, preserve water quality
FRANKFORT, Ky. — The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet is partnering with more than 60 communities across the commonwealth to raise awareness of the importance of preserving water quality by controlling pollution from storm water runoff.
The cabinet and the communities are co-permitted under the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Phase II storm water program. The permits are regulated by the Division of Water, within the Environmental and Public Protection Cabinet. Partnering communities are classified as small municipal separate storm sewer systems (MS4), which include portions of state-maintained roadways.
“The state highway network intersects every community in the commonwealth, and creates a natural partnership between our cabinet, local governments and citizens,” said Transportation Secretary Joe Prather. “We are collaborating with communities to bring attention through education to the problem of storm water pollution and its causes – and to raise awareness that clean storm water is everyone’s responsibility.”
The partners are required to implement six “minimum control measures” – public education and outreach, public involvement, illicit discharge elimination, construction runoff control, post construction water management, and pollution prevention.
One of the first goals of the program is to educate and inform municipal leaders, businesses and citizens about activities that inadvertently cause storm water and pollution runoff, which can result in flooding, water pollution, changes to natural water flow patterns, soil erosion and sedimentation, and damage to aquatic ecosystems. The program also will teach ways in which such damage can be prevented.
Toward that end, the Transportation Cabinet, in an agreement with the Kentucky Environmental Education Council, is working through two professional educators to help local communities reach their goals related to public education and involvement.
The cabinet is providing training opportunities and training “toolkits” for use in a series of one-day workshops that will be held across Kentucky, beginning next week.
The first workshops are geared toward MS4 coordinators, highway district personnel, consultants to MS4 communities, and potential MS4 partners, such as agents of the University of Kentucky’s Cooperative Extension Service. The toolkit for each community contains outreach resources and program evaluation strategies for use in working with numerous groups, including builders, developers, industry, local governments, nongovernmental organizations, and individual citizens, among others. Workshop locations are as follows:
April 23 – Cadiz, Lake Barkley State Resort Park
May 1 – Elizabethtown, Pritchard Community Center
May 6 – Greenup, Greenbo Lake State Resort Park
May 14 – Lexington, Fayette County Extension Service Office
Workshops in June and July will focus on training teachers and school district curriculum professionals in MS4 communities. The workshops will provide each MS4 community with a toolkit of materials for use with schools.
Teachers will receive curriculum strategies and learn about resources related to storm water runoff pollution and pollution prevention. The resources will be correlated to the Kentucky Core Content and Program of Studies in science, social studies, and practical living.
Registration will be first come, first served for the workshops, all of which are free and will include lunch. Teachers can receive professional development credit for attending. The schedule:
June 24 – Cadiz, Lake Barkley State Resort Park
June 26 – Somerset, Highway District 8 Office
June 30 – Elizabethtown, Pritchard Community Center
July 2 – Lexington, Fayette County Extension Service Office
July 8 – Greenup, Greenbo Lake State Resort Park
July 10 - Fort Wright, Sanitation District No. 1
The cabinet also is working to ensure its own construction and maintenance practices are environmentally responsible. “The essence of this effort is to increase environmental awareness, and to ensure a sense of responsibility to help protect and improve the world in which we live,” Prather said. “This is a step in the right direction.”