FRANKFORT, Ky. (July 1, 2004) – The Kentucky Division of Water and the Cabinet for Health and Family Services are continuing swimming advisories that have been in place for several years in different areas of the state. Water sampling for the 2004 recreational season has begun for the Licking River, the North Fork of the Kentucky River and the Upper Cumberland River. There have been no significant changes in the past year, and data indicate that the advisories should remain in effect.
Kentuckians should avoid swimming and other recreational contact with waters in these areas of the Commonwealth because of the presence of high levels of fecal coliform bacteria. This type of bacteria, present in human and animal waste, indicates the presence of untreated or inadequately treated sewage. The bacteria create a potential for acquiring infectious diseases, particularly diarrheal illnesses. Guy Delius, assistant director with the Cabinet’s Division of Public Health Protection and Safety said, “This information is provided to our citizens to help them make informed good public health decisions regarding where they swim. Simply not swimming in these areas is an easy preventable measure to reduce the likelihood of contracting an illness.”
Swimming advisories remain in effect for the following:
Upper Cumberland River
- The Cumberland River from Fourmile Bridge (Highway 2014) to Pineville at the Highway 66 Bridge and from Wallins Creek Bridge (Highway 219) to Harlan.
- Martins Fork from Harlan to the Cawood Water Plant.
- All of Catrons Creek, all of Clover Fork and all of Straight Creek.
- Poor Fork from Harlan to Looney Creek.
- Looney Creek from the mouth to Lynch Water Plant Bridge.
Illegal straight pipe discharges, failing septic systems and bypasses from sewage collection systems contribute to water quality problems in the area.
North Fork of the Kentucky River
The swimming advisory continues for the North Fork of the Kentucky River upstream of Chavies. Numerous illegal straight pipe discharges of sewage contribute to water quality problems along this section of the river. However, water quality has continued to improve and is approaching an acceptable level for swimming in some stretches of the river.
The Licking River from Banklick Creek to the confluence with the Ohio River remains under a swimming advisory. The advisory includes all of Banklick Creek and Three Mile Creek. High fecal coliform pollution in this area is caused by combined sewer overflows and sanitary sewer overflows.
Residential and agricultural areas
The agencies also recommend against swimming or other full-body contact with surface waters immediately following heavy rainfall events, especially in dense residential, urban and livestock production areas. This recommendation is because of the increased potential for exposure to pollution from urban nonpoint source pollution, bypasses from sewage collection systems, combined sewer overflows and pollution from livestock waste.
Both the Division of Water and the Department for Public Health continue to monitor problem areas. A number of programs are implementing solutions to resolve these problems.
An enforcement initiative on the part of the Environmental and Public Protection Cabinet is identifying straight pipes and failing septic systems. Areas under swimming advisories are the primary focus of this initiative. People who lack proper wastewater disposal are cited and then directed to correct the problem either by connecting to a sewer system or by installing an appropriate onsite wastewater treatment system.
The cabinet continues to encourage connection to municipal and other regional wastewater treatment systems where available.
The Cabinet for Health and Family Services-Department for Public Health and local health departments continue their onsite sewage disposal program, which requires any new home or structure that generates wastewater and is not connected to a municipal sewer to have an inspected and approved septic system.
PRIDE (Personal Responsibility in a Desirable Environment), which operates in southeastern and central counties, is providing resources for wastewater infrastructure needed to eliminate water pollution problems by offering grants to individuals, communities, counties and other public entities for wastewater treatment projects. State revolving fund money for wastewater treatment is also targeted at areas in need of regional collection and treatment systems.