Wednesday, August 08, 2001

Auditor says water quality efforts lag

The Associated Press

        FRANKFORT — Kentucky's water quality enforcement efforts do not ensure safe drinking water and a report from the state auditor released Tuesday blames regulators and the General Assembly.

        The report said “straight pipe” releases of household sewage into waterways is undocumented and unregulated; dozens of animal feeding operations don't have permits required by federal rules and mining regulators have been charged with secondary responsibility for overseeing water quality rules.

        “Over 1 million Kentuckians drink ground water,” said state Auditor Ed Hatchett. “They rely on state government to protect them from fecal contamination, acid mine drainage and other water pollutants. Unfortunately, regulators are not ensuring safe, potable water.”

        The report is the result of an unusual coordination of Kentucky research along with several nearby states on the same topic. Mr. Hatchett said the audit is in keeping with his office's efforts to ensure state agencies perform their required duties.

        “Our point is that non-point source pollution is putting Kentuckians at risk,” Mr. Hatchett said in an interview. “And if the General Assembly would consider some of these recommendations, our citizens would not be at risk that is this great.”

        Maleva Chamberlain, spokeswoman for the Division of Water in the Natural Resources Cabinet, said the agency had not received the audit as of Tuesday and could not yet comment on its contents and recommendations.

        Among the recommendations to the legislature are to require farmers to produce water quality plans, finance a complete survey of straight pipes and abandoned mines and prevent the transfer of property until a sewage disclosure is created. The General Assembly has approved a law that prohibits providing electricity to new construction without ensuring proper sewage treatment.


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