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 The Kentucky Division of Water (DOW)  is implementing the national Clean Water Act 303(d) Program Vision which calls for states to prioritize impaired waters for TMDL development and to develop TMDL Alternative Approaches where appropriate over a six year period (2016-2022).

In 2011, the Clean Water Act 303(d) Program Vision (henceforth referred to as ‘the vision’) was developed by the EPA and state TMDL program managers as a new path forward for the TMDL program. Key issues were discussed and six goals were outlined to encourage creativity in developing tailored approaches to achieve water quality restoration more effectively. These six goals are Prioritization, Assessment, Protection, Alternatives, Engagement, and Integration. The vision allows Kentucky to develop state specific priorities, encourages stakeholder engagement, and allows the TMDL section to integrate our work with other Clean Water Act program priorities. The vision fosters flexible watershed management but requires the support of many stakeholders  including public, federal, and state agencies to attain this common goal. 

In 2016, the Kentucky Division of Water submitted our first draft of vision priorities to the EPA. The vision priorities list [XLS, 134 KB] was updated in 2018 using the 2016 303(d) list [XLS, 1.3 MB]. This vision priorities list consists of pollutant-waterbody combinations that are prioritized to have a TMDL or TMDL alternative plan developed by 2022 (Figure 1).

The Kentucky Division of Water’s top vision priority for TMDL development is to address all remaining bacteria impairments the Commonwealth. DOW has developed a new method and type of report for addressing these waterbodies. While past TMDL reports were written at the watershed scale, the Kentucky Statewide Total Maximum Daily Load for Bacteria Impaired Waters, addresses all remaining bacteria-impaired waters for the state in one report.

Another vision priority includes working with stakeholders to develop TMDL Alternative Approaches in communities with the on-the-ground resources to address water quality impairments more quickly and effectively than a TMDL approach. Kentucky’s first TMDL Alternative was possible with the cooperation of various stakeholders in the Gunpowder Creek Watershed. 

For additional information on the vision, read “Questions and Answers” on the Long-term Vision for Assessment, Restoration, and Protection under the Clean Water Act Section 303(d) Program.