The Kentucky Division of Water has released reports detailing the levels of pollution in two western Kentucky streams. Division of Water spokeswoman Allison Fleck says Clarks River and Cypress Creek are contaminated, but the division isn’t sure exactly where the E. coli is coming from.
“The bacteria pollution comes from septic tanks that are not functioning properly,” she said. “Basically from runoff that runs across agricultural areas, people’s yards, the waste from pets and heavy rains will run off of the land and into our streams, eventually into our rivers, which are our water sources.”
The Division of Water is charged with calculating what’s called a Total Maximum Daily Load for impaired streams, which is the maximum amount of pollution that’s allowed to be in the stream while still meeting the state’s water quality standard.
Fleck says the state can pinpoint where a lot of pollution comes from—like sewage treatment plants or factories. But it’s trickier with non-point source pollution.
“The waste, or the litter, whatever’s impacting that stream can occur miles and miles away,” she said. “This is not something that’s on the side of the creek and just happens to run into the stream.”
The Division of Water is accepting public comment on the reports until September 23.