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What is the Agriculture Water Quality Act?
The Kentucky General Assembly passed the Kentucky Agriculture Water Quality Act in 1994 (KRS. 224.71-100 through 224.71-140). The goal of the act is to protect surface and groundwater resources from pollution as a result of agriculture and silviculture (forestry) activities.
Whom does the Agriculture Water Quality Act affect?
The Agriculture Water Quality Act requires all landowners with 10 or more acres that are being used for agriculture or silviculture operations to develop and implement a water quality plan based upon guidance from the Kentucky Agriculture Water Quality Plan. It is the sole responsibility of each landowner to develop, implement and revise when needed, a water quality plan for their individual operations.
How are agriculture and silviculture operations defined under the Agriculture Water Quality Act?
"Agriculture operation" means any farm operation on a tract of land, including all income producing improvements and farm dwellings, together with other farm buildings and structures incident to the operation and maintenance of the farm, situated on 10 contiguous acres or more of land used for the production of livestock, livestock products, poultry, poultry products, milk, milk products or silviculture products; for the growing of crops such as, but not limited to, tobacco, corn, soybeans, small grains, fruits and vegetables; or devoted to and meeting the requirements and qualifications for payments to agriculture programs under an agreement with the state or federal government. "Silviculture" means, generally, that part of forestry that involves growing and harvesting of trees. Kentucky's Forestry Practices Guide for Water Quality Management is the reference document for forestry operations in Kentucky designed for technical service providers and includes best management practices (BMPs) as required by the Kentucky Agriculture Water Quality Act.
What is the Kentucky Agriculture Water Quality Plan?
The Kentucky Agriculture Water Quality Plan is basically a compilation of BMPs from six different areas: silviculture, pesticides and fertilizers, farmstead, crops, livestock and streams and other waters. Each BMP includes definitions and descriptions, regulatory requirements, Agriculture Water Quality Authority requirements, design information, practice maintenance, technical assistance, cost-share assistance, recommendations and references. The statewide plan serves as the guide to individual landowners/land users as they develop water quality plans for their individual operations.
What is the process for developing and implementing an individual water quality plan?
All individual landowners must develop and fully implement applicable requirements of the Kentucky Agriculture Water Quality Plan. Technical assistance and cost-share funding is provided through local conservation district offices with assistance from the Natural Resources Conservation Service, Cooperative Extension Service and others, to landowners in developing and implementing site-specific plans. After identifying the BMPs, landowners/land users implement these practices on their land. Assistance to implement the plan can be provided through local conservation district offices with assistance from the Natural Resources Conservation Service and a variety of technical agencies.
For a landowner to certify that he or she has an Agriculture Water Quality Plan for his or her agriculture or silviculture operation, an Agriculture Water Quality Plan Self-Certification is available. The certification form can be downloaded, printed, completed and turned in to the local conservation district office. Local conservation districts are available to help with the plan and the certification.
Significant progress is being made toward the development and implementation of individual agriculture water quality plans across the state. The Division of Conservation, on behalf of the Agriculture Water Quality Authority, is tracking this progress through the 121 conservation districts. This Agriculture Water Quality certification map reports the number of certifications reported by Kentucky conservation districts through Feb. 19, 2010.
For more information, contact Paulette Akers or Johnna McHugh at the Division of Conservation.