The Division of Water is developing a draft Nutrient Reduction Strategy to outline ongoing and future efforts to reduce the amount nutrients entering Kentucky waters and, ultimately, the Gulf of Mexico. Elevated levels of nutrients in Kentucky have been associated with eutrophication of lakes and streams and the formation of harmful algal blooms. Elevated nutrients in Kentucky waters also contributed to hypoxic conditions, or “dead,” zones in the Gulf of Mexico.
Kentucky joins 11 other states in the Mississippi River Basin in consolidating efforts to address nutrient problems in waters. As members of the Mississippi River/Gulf of Mexico Watershed Nutrient Task Force, these states, along with five federal agencies, are working to develop nutrient reduction strategies and protocols to improve water quality at home and downstream.
Kentucky’s strategy is being designed as a comprehensive, overarching framework to guide reduction of nutrient loading and develop a reasonable and appropriate watershed-specific plan to manage nutrients. The strategy will build on programs already in place in Kentucky and will consolidate activities being conducted by other state and federal agencies.
Over the past 50 years, the amount of nutrients -- primarily nitrogen and phosphorous -- entering the nation’s waters has increased dramatically. This increase has resulted from land-use changes, septic systems, intensified agriculture and runoff of farm and pet waste. Excessive nitrogen and phosphorous can have negative impacts on human health, aquatic ecosystems including fisheries, and the economy.