Planning water use is essential to assure that adequate drinking water is available now and in the future. All Kentuckians should be concerned with the adequacy and quality of their local drinking water supply. This site presents Kentucky water supply planning efforts.
Water supply planning began after the drought of 1988, during which several Kentucky communities had difficulty providing adequate potable water to their citizens. In response to this emergency situation, then-governor Wallace Wilkinson issued an executive order creating a task force to study the water supply issue.
In 1989, the task force released its recommendations, which included the requirement that water suppliers develop a county water supply plan. In 1990, KRS 151:114 directed the Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Cabinet to "administer a program for the purpose of developing long-range water supply plans for each county and its municipalities and public water systems or for a region composed of one (1) or more counties. The plans to be developed shall include an assessment of the existing public and private water resources, both surface and groundwater, of the study area, an examination of present water use in the area, projection of future water requirements, and a determination of possible alternative approaches that can be taken in order to meet present and future water supply needs."
Subsequently, 401 KAR 4:220 explicated the scope, substance and structure of the long-range water supply plans, mandating that long-range county water supply plans be developed by July 15, 1998, according to guidelines to be developed by the Kentucky Division of Water. Failure to develop such a plan by July 15, 1998, would result in no endorsement of local project requests for funds that are submitted to the Kentucky intergovernmental review process which impact water. The 1998 General Assembly extended this deadline to July 15, 1999. All 120 counties in the state met the deadline with county water supply plans that were approved.
County water supply plans are based on the dynamic principle that continued revisions to the approved plans will be required as the population grows. The plans will need to accommodate changes in infrastructure, installation of new water lines and replacement of old ones and expansion of water treatment plants.
In 2000, KRS 151:601 directed that county or planning-area water management councils be established to supersede earlier water supply planning councils. KRS 151:603 charged the management councils with developing and implementing plans for the provision of safe and reliable water and wastewater treatment to unserved and underserved areas of the Commonwealth. Fifteen planning areas have been established, corresponding to area development district (ADD) boundaries. With the assistance of the ADD water coordinator, planning councils for each area began their activities.
Water management areas within, or in some cases extending beyond, each planning area were identified by the councils. Water management areas define those regions where water and wastewater treatment service may be most effectively addressed through coordinated development, such as shared resources, consolidation of facilities and mergers. A planning area may include several water management areas; an entire county might be a water management area. Water management plans developed by area councils were designed to be consistent with the existing approved county water supply plans. They examine regional approaches to development and also include all information needed to address issues by the regional approach.
The Water Resource Information System (WRIS), developed in recent years through the cooperative efforts of water systems and local, regional and state agencies, is maintained by the Kentucky Infrastructure Authority and provides much of the information needed in the planning process. The WRIS includes historical data from water supply and strategic development plans, a geographic information system for treatment facilities, the Public Water Supply Identification Number (PWSID), water lines, water sources, storage facilities, sewer lines, groundwater resource information, proposed water and wastewater projects, infrastructure and planning maps. All the information in the WRIS is accessible in digital format via the Internet.
There are 15 area development districts (ADDs) in the state of Kentucky. The ADDs provide consultation and engineering information to the 120 counties and a link to state government for the county governments and water suppliers.