Kentucky Citizen Groups Notify EPA of Intent to Sue to Protect Kentucky's Waterways

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Kentucky Citizen Groups Notify EPA of Intent to Sue to Protect Kentucky's Waterways  Posted: May 29, 2001
Five citizen organizations whose members include over 6,000 Kentucky residents are taking action to protect Kentucky's waterways. On May 19, 2001 the Kentucky Waterways Alliance, Kentuckians for the Commonwealth, the Sierra Club Cumberland Chapter, Floyd's Fork Environmental Association and Kentucky Resources Council, Inc. have served the required 60-day prior notice of their intent to sue the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) unless EPA acts within that time to publish a water quality standard protecting Kentucky's high quality streams and rivers.

At stake is a critical portion of Kentucky's water quality regulations: the antidegradation implementation policy. Federal water quality regulations require that for streams whose water quality is better than minimum, that any proposed lowering of water quality by a new discharger be carefully scrutinized and justified. Kentucky proposed a narrow definition of waters entitled to this scrutiny, and EPA rejected Kentucky's policy in 1997 as being too narrow, and again rejected a second state attempt to define "high quality" waters in August of 2000. Kentucky's proposed policy fails to fully protect current water quality for most of our waterways, designating less than 3% of Kentucky streams as deserving of the protections given to high quality waters in the Clean Water Act.

Every Kentucky citizen needs and appreciates the value of clean water, especially in these times of drought and spills into our rivers. Kentucky's waters deserve the same level of protection that other states give to their waterways. A key to this protection is an antidegradation implementation policy that at a minimum meets federal requirements' said Judith Petersen, Executive Director of the Kentucky Waterways Alliance.

Floyds Fork Environmental Association co-chair Teena Halbig stated, "each and every citizen in the Commonwealth should be outraged that the state is routinely allowing the degrading of the water quality in our streams. Our state government and EPA have refused to act for almost 4 years and must now be prodded into protecting our health and welfare."

Section 505 of the Clean Water Act is called 'Citizen Suits' This section allows citizens to sue EPA to make certain the agency fulfills its legal obligations and enforces its regulations. When the Clean Water Act was passed in 1972 over then-President Nixon's veto, Congress thought clean water was so important they included this section, to make certain states would have at least the minimum requirements under the law. Section 505 states that prior to suing EPA, the plaintiff must give EPA 60 days advance notice of their intent to sue.

Tom FitzGerald of the Kentucky Resources Council represents the groups in this action. For more information please contact: Judith D. Petersen, Kentucky Waterways Alliance at 270-524-1774, and Teena Halbig at 502-267-6883. A copy of the Notice of Intent letter, which was received by EPA officials on May 23, 2001, is linked on the Initiatives page-click on "next 24 postings" link in the green menu bar .

By Kentucky Resources Council on 05/29/2001 5:32 PM
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