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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 Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) development and to develop TMDL Alternative Approaches where appropriate in the context of a long-term planning framework.

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 a 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 consisted of pollutant-waterbody combinations that prioritized having a TMDL or TMDL alternative plan developed by 2022.

The Kentucky Division of Water’s top vision priority for TMDL development for the 2016-2022 ploanning period was to address all remaining bacteria impairments on the 2016 303(d) list. To meet this goal, DOW 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 was designed to address all remaining bacteria-impaired waters for the state in one report. Between 2019 and 2022, Kentucky completed over 300 E. coli and fecal coliform TMDLs contained within 13 basin-focused appendices of the Statewide Bacteria TMDL.​ Kentucky also completed a TMDL report for the Pond Creek watershed (Muhlenberg County) containing 55 TMDLs for metals, pH, and E. coli​.​

Another vision priority for the 2016-2022 planning period included working with stakeholders to develop TMDL Alternative Approaches in communities with the on-the-ground resources to address water quality impairments more quickly than a TMDL approach. Kentucky’s first TMDL Alternative Plan was completed in 2018 with the cooperation of various stakeholders in the Gunpowder Creek Watershed. More TMDL Alternative Plans were initiated during this time and are currently in development.​

In 2024, the states and EPA anticipate beginning a new long-term 303(d) "vision" planning period.  In the interim, Kentucky Division of Water will be completing several TMDL Alternative Plans currently in development as well as continuing work on TMDL projects in progress. Kentucky will continue to engage with the public and stakeholders across the Commonwealth and work to integrate with other Clean Water Act programs in developing priorities for the next long-term planning period.

The TMDL development priority level for each waterbody and pollutant requiring a TMDL appears on the 303(d) lists that are updated and released approzimately every two years. The most recent approved 303(d) list can be downloaded from the Integrated Re​ports webpage​.​

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.