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Kentucky’s drinking water demonstrates continued excellence in quality, according to annual report

Kentucky’s 2018 Drinking Water Compliance Report shows that the Commonwealth’s 434 public water systems consistently produce excellent quality water, and have a high rate of compliance with the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) requirements.

The annual report, released Monday by the Kentucky Division of Water (DOW), summarizes compliance data and monitoring results of public water systems. Kentucky’s public water systems are required by the SDWA to test produced water regularly for more than 100 contaminants and to take corrective action and notify its customers when a contaminant exceeds standards.

“This report illustrates that Kentucky public water systems, which serve more than 95 percent of Kentuckians, continue to reliably provide high-quality drinking water to our citizens,” said DOW Director Peter Goodmann. “Given the fiscal, staffing and infrastructure challenges faced by many public water systems, this record of compliance is admirable.”

The annual report summarizes the violations issued by the DOW in 2018, most of which are administrative, and reflect issues with monitoring and reporting. Kentucky’s public water systems saw a decrease in monitoring and reporting violations in 2017 and that level of compliance was maintained in 2018.

While the number of health-based violations at public water systems increased in 2015 and 2016 with the implementation of new Safe Drinking Water Act requirements for some public water systems, these violations decreased during 2017 and again in 2018, the report showed.

The 2018 drinking water compliance data also indicated that there were no water systems that exceeded the federally established limits for metals, including lead, or volatile organic compounds (VOCs).

Violations related to disinfection byproducts (DBPs), a class of contaminants that result from the interaction of disinfection chemicals, such as chlorine, with natural organic material in water, constitute 81 percent of all health-based drinking water violations in Kentucky. The report showed a decrease in these health-based violations, from 173 in 2017 to 122 in 2018. This decrease is attributed to the technical assistance efforts by the Division of Water and the Kentucky Rural Water Association, and the cooperation of public water systems in focusing on reducing DBP issues in challenged systems across Kentucky.

Kentucky’s DBP violations have decreased 46 percent since the initial increase in violations in 2015 and 2016. The surge in health-based violations seen in 2015 was anticipated due to the implementation of the federal rule for Stage 2 Disinfection Byproducts, which required “consecutive” public water systems that purchase water from another public water system and re-distribute that water to its customers to monitor for and meet recently established standards for DBPs. The consecutive public water systems had previously been exempted from monitoring for DBPs.

Because water age is generally greater in consecutive systems, an overall increase in health-based violations occurred in 2015 and 2016 when consecutive systems came under the DBP rule. Since then, with technical assistance from the DOW and the Kentucky Rural Water Association, public water systems have addressed and mitigated many of these DBP occurrences.

In order to facilitate the DOW’s capabilities to provide technical assistance to public water systems, the division participates in U.S. EPA’s Area Wide Optimization Program (AWOP).

The skills learned through the AWOP have enabled the DOW to give technical assistance to public water systems that have been issued notices of violation but which fail to return to compliance.

The success of these protocols in assisting public water systems with DBP violations was recently evaluated by the U.S. EPA and is being developed as a best management practice to be used in the national AWOP program. 

The Kentucky Annual Drinking Water Compliance Report is online at:

For more information about the report, contact Alicia Jacobs (alicia.jacobs@ky.gov).

From Energy and Environment Cabinet

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