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Development and Application of a Watershed Assessment Protocol as a Tool to PrioritizeManagement Activities

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Sanitation District No. 1 (District) serves over 30 communities in Boone, Campbell, and Kenton Counties, Kentucky and is responsible for wastewater collection and treatment and stormwater, including implementation of Phase II stormwater requirements, throughout the three county service area. The District is also responsible for approximately 100 combined sewer overflow (CSO) points and related flood protection components along the Ohio River, the Licking River and Banklick Creek. The District has estimated that approximately 500 million dollars will be required over the next 20 years to build new sanitary sewer infrastructure and upgrade the existing infrastructure.

Competing regulatory requirements often sub-optimize the water quality benefits of money spent on collection system controls and treatment system upgrades and limited local resources leave little room for error in determination of program and project objectives. For these reasons, the District is committed to a watershed-based approach to address water quality and quantity impairments. A District requirement for such an approach is that implementation of a control program should occur only when benefits can be defined with confidence. Application of a watershed-based approach within the District's service area will allow for a coordinated effort and comprehensive assessment of all impairments and contributing sources within a watershed.

Sanitation District No. 1 was awarded a Federal grant administered by USEPA to develop and demonstrate a methodology for implementing a comprehensive, integrated program for understanding water quality problems on a watershed basis. The focus of the first phase of the project was development of a watershed assessment protocol for application to watersheds within the District's service area. The protocol consists of four steps: 1) problem identification, 2) source assessment, 3) linking causes and effects (modeling), and 4) source ranking. In the second phase of the project, the protocol was tested through application to the Banklick Creek watershed, a local watershed with known wet weather impairments from stormwater, CSO, and rural sources. The results of the protocol's application to Banklick Creek will be documented to allow its broader application to other watersheds within the District and elsewhere. The third phase of the project will involve revisions to the protocol to incorporate lessons learned through its application to Banklick Creek.

This paper describes the development and initial application of the Watershed Assessment Protocol and discusses the intended use of the protocol as a planning tool within the District's service area.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 January 2004

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