This report provides an overview of the water quality problems and associated state and federal programs in the 40 counties that make up the PRIDE region. The 2000 Kentucky 305(b) stream assessment has identified over 1000 miles of impaired stream within the region. The major cause of pollution in the region is related to problems with pathogens. Much of these problems are related to straight pipes and failing septic and wastewater systems. It has been estimated that there are over 35,000 straight pipes and failing septic systems in the PRIDE region. A second major environmental impact in the region is related to mining activities. However, because of the nature of the coal seams in eastern Kentucky, most of the impacts are related to siltation and habitat alteration as opposed to pH impairment. Most of the observed pH impairment is limited to McCreary and Whitley counties as a result of the more acidic coal bearing seems that occur in these counties. A third major problem in the PRIDE counties is related to solid waste. It is estimated that there are approximately 2000 illegal dumps in the PRIDE region.
Several federal programs have been implemented to deal with the significant environmental problems that exist in the PRIDE region. These include the NOAA supported PRIDE initiative along with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers 531 program and site specific EPA earmarks. As of July 2000, total authorizations for all three programs exceeded 70 million dollars.
The efficient utilization of federal funds in improving the water quality and aquatic habitat of the region requires a mechanism for assessing and evaluating the impacts of proposed and ongoing projects as well as some mechanism for prioritizing the allocation of additional funds. An environmental problem metric proposed in this report provides a basic way to evaluate funding priorities in light of their potential impact on targeted problems. The companion report PRIDE Water Quality Assessment Report II: Chemical, Biological and Habitat Assessments provides a 10 year baseline assessment of environmental conditions in the region as measured by indicators of pH, fecal coliforms, habitat assessment, and macro-invertebrate assessment. This assessment should provide the basis for evaluating the long term impact of proposed and ongoing projects in the basin. Additional supplemental sampling locations for use in improving the overall project assessments are proposed and evaluated in the companion report PRIDE Water Quality Assessment Report III: Existing and Proposed Monitoring Network.
Kentucky Water Resources Research Institute. University of Kentucky, "PRIDE Water Quality Assessment Report: I. Problems and Programs" (2000). KWRRI Research Reports. 193.