Data To Action

In addition to training volunteers to monitor Kentucky’s waterways by taking accurate measurements and correctly collecting samples for laboratory analysis, Watershed Watch encourages and trains volunteers to fully understand the implications of their findings, and to take action to improve their waterways.   
 
The organization’s mission is to be a statewide citizens’ monitoring effort to improve and protect water quality by raising community awareness, and by supporting implementation of the goals of the Clean Water Act and other water quality initiatives.
 
Many examples of Watershed Watch volunteers working to improve their waterway are described in our success stories, but here are some specific examples.  (Source: Hank Graddy, for 2013 funding request.)
Lee Dew reported to the Davies County Fiscal Court that his pathogen data indicated that children playing in a  public park were at risk.  The Fiscal Court investigated, found the leaking sewer line and it was fixed.  A Salt River volunteer found a similar result downstream from a popular restaurant.  That finding helped the restaurant discover that their septic system was not working and it was repaired.  Ken Cooke, Jean Watts and the other Friends of Wolf Run have identified leaking sewer lines, improper sediment controls, and other types of water quality problems and their advocacy has resulted in repairs and modifications to improve water quality.  See examples under the “issues” tab at:    http://kywater.net/wolfrun/  .

In 2008, Hank Graddy submitted comments to the US Department of Justice on behalf of the KRWW concerning the proposed consent decree for the City of Lexington, which comments included references to the KRWW water monitoring data with particular reference to KRWW sampling sites in Fayette County.  Graddy has also used the KRWW data from Jessamine County in a planning and zoning hearing concerning a proposed residential development that would have placed multiple one acre lots on septic systems in a Karst geology.

Tony Powell used the sampling data he obtained in the Eagle Creek watershed to apply for grants to help extend sanitary sewer lines to a number of residences with failing septic systems.  Over the past ten years, he has helped add a number of residences in the Eagle Creek Watershed to properly working sewer system, and improved the water quality in that watershed.

Tony Powell and the Watershed Watch in Kentucky program were each recognized by the Kentucky Environmental Quality Commission with 2013 Earth Day awards.  See the attached photographs, with Cabinet Secretary Len Peters presenting these awards.  By coincidence, this is the second such award to the Watershed Watch in Kentucky program, with the first award given in 2004, when VEE Executive Director Gerald McCarthy was present with the Watershed Watch leadership to be recognized.

Our best example of turning our data into action is found in the publication of the proposed TMDL for South Elkhorn Creek by the Kentucky Division of Water, titled:: Total Maximum Daily Load for Fecal Coliform and E. coli,9 Stream Segments and 2 Springs within the South Elkhorn Creek Watershed, Fayette, Franklin, Jessamine, Scott, and Woodford Counties, Kentucky and found on the web at:                                                                           

http://water.ky.gov/TMDL/South%20Elkhorn%20Pathogen%20TMDL%20Proposed%20Draft%2011-9-11.pdf

The TMDL was written and modeled using a very small set of data collected by the Division of Water.  However, the Division of Water supported the use of the small data set by comparing that data to the data collected by the Kentucky River Watershed Watch from over thirty (30) sampling sites from 1999 through 2010.  At the second site in the KRWW data base, numbered K02, in Midway, Kentucky, KRWW data provided 40 sampling results for pathogens.  For site K26, KRWW data provided 49 pathogen sampling results over that period.  These results are found in the proposed TMDL at Appendix F, from page F-1 through F-25.   Two pages from that appendix are attached.

The TMDL reliance on KRWW data from 1999 through 2010 helps shield the TMDL from one line of criticism – not enough data.  The TMDL results effectively eliminate most other sources of pathogen pollution in the South Elkhorn other than leaking sewer lines in the older portion of Lexington, what many people suspected – but what a few people might still question.  The TMDL helps end the questioning and excuses, and will help “compel” the repair and reconstruction of these sewer lines.

Bringing science to the people and people to the water's edge.