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Release Date: 11/15/2002
Contact Information: Dawn Harris-Young, EPA Press and Media Relations, 404-562-8421
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced today that it has proposed water quality standards that establish a federal antidegradation policy and implementation methods for high-quality waters in the Commonwealth of Kentucky. High quality waters are defined as waters whose quality is better than that necessary to support fish, shellfish, and wildlife and recreation in and on the water. If the proposal is adopted as final, Kentucky will have to conduct more reviews to determine the need for new or increased discharges to high quality waters. This action was taken as a result of EPA's disapproval of Kentucky's high quality waters provisions because the Commonwealth only applies its high quality water protections to its "exceptional" waters category, a category which represents less than 2 percent of the Commonwealth's water bodies.

EPA's proposal includes:

    • requirements for Kentucky to maintain and protect the quality of high quality waters consistent with the Clean Water Act (CWA); and
    • a definition of high quality waters as any surface water identified by the Commonwealth whose quality is better than that needed to support fish, shellfish, and wildlife and recreation in and on the water. Also, the proposal identifies the process for assessing the need to lower the quality of high quality waters that includes:
    • providing for public participation and intergovernmental coordination;
    • evaluating the need for the discharge in light of effective pollution prevention alternatives, enhanced treatment techniques, or other alternatives that would further limit the extent to which water quality is lowered; and
    • determining that lower water quality supports important economic benefits to the local community or protection of public health.
When the Agency disapproves a state or tribal water quality standard, and the state or tribe does not make appropriate changes within 90 days, EPA's Administrator must promptly propose and promulgate revised standards. If Kentucky revises its antidegradation provisions to address EPA's disapproval, the Agency will not finalize the federal proposal. If Kentucky revises its antidegradation provisions after EPA promulgates this rule, EPA will withdraw the rule.

The public is invited to comment on the proposed water quality standards that were published in the Federal Register, Thursday, November 14, 2002. The comment period will extend until March 14, 2003. The comments will be reviewed by EPA Region 4 and a final Federal Register notice addressing all comments and announcing a final decision then will be issued.

The material can be viewed in the official public docket from 9:00AM to 3:30PM, Monday through Friday, at EPA Region 4, Water Management Division, Sam Nunn Atlanta Federal Center, 61 Forsyth Street, SW Atlanta, 30303-3104. Ask for Proposed Water Quality Standards for Kentucky OW-2002-0022.

The document also can be found on the EPA web site at or use EPA's E-DOCKETS at to submit or view public comments. Refer to the Federal Register notice for instructions on submitting comments.

EPA will hold a public hearing on this proposal on January 23, 2003 from 2:00 to 5:00 PM and from 7:00 to 10:00 PM at the Capital Plaza Convention Complex, 405 Mero Street, Frankfort, Kentucky.