Surface Water Quality
The Health Department’s Master Health Plan identifies surface water quality as a Northern Kentucky priority public health issue.
Industrial and household chemical pollution, deteriorating and inadequate municipal sewers, and malfunctioning septic systems were all identified as threats to the public health. To accomplish the goal of reducing “the potential for illness by contact with or ingestion of contaminated water,” the Health Department and several regional organizations have begun implementing several strategies identified in the Master Plan, including:
- Establish household hazardous waste disposal programs: The Household Hazardous Waste Action Coalition helps protect the public health and environment of Northern Kentucky by facilitating the safe disposal of household hazardous waste. Boone, Campbell, Grant and Kenton counties have fostered a working partnership between several agencies, groups and businesses to create a consistent outreach to citizens that makes proper disposal of problem household chemicals much easier. The Northern Kentucky Solid Waste Resource Guide also lists many resources for proper household hazardous waste disposal.
- Promote school-based environmental education: SD1 , along with many other local groups and agencies, host WaterIfic in the spring. Waterific is a program of outdoor and environmental education for middle school students in which students learn about watersheds, effects of pollution on organisms, erosion, aquatic creatures, etc.
- Increase the number of trained community volunteers: Concerns about creeks, rivers, lakes and ponds have coincided with an increasing awareness of water pollution issues in Kentucky, and the development of a statewide network of volunteer water testers. In 1997, the Kentucky River Watershed Watch pilot project trained volunteers to test the water in their region for various pollutants, monitor water chemistry and to perform biological indicator and physical habitat assessments.
The success of the project led to similar watershed watch groups in every basin in Kentucky with more than 3,000 citizen volunteers statewide as of 2006. In Northern Kentucky, as of January 2007, there were 13 monitoring sites in the Licking River watershed and the smaller tributaries to the Ohio; and eight monitoring sites in the Kentucky River watershed.
Other strategies in the Master Health Plan, such as community education opportunities, repairing and replacing malfunctioning septic systems, promoting implementation of agricultural best management practices, etc. are on going.