Kentucky’s drinking water demonstrates excellence in quality, reliability, annual report shows


Kentucky’s drinking water demonstrates excellence in quality, reliability, annual report shows

Kentucky’s 2019 Drinking Water Compliance Report shows that the Commonwealth’s 434 public water systems consistently produce excellent quality water, and have a high rate of compliance with the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) requirements.

“This report shows that more and more of our people are getting exactly what they deserve: strong infrastructure and convenient, clean drinking water,” said Gov. Andy Beshear. “As excellent as these results are, we want to continue improving in these measures, with a focus on counties that currently have the least access to affordable, safe drinking water.”

The annual report, released by the Kentucky Division of Water (DOW), summarizes compliance data and monitoring results of public water systems. Kentucky’s public water systems are required by the SDWA to test produced water regularly for more than 100 contaminants and to take corrective action and notify its customers when a contaminant exceeds standards.

“I am proud of the continued commitment of our water systems across the Commonwealth to provide excellent quality water and top-notch service to our residents,” said Rebecca Goodman, Secretary of the Energy and Environment Cabinet which houses DOW. “We are grateful for their cooperation and look forward to continuing the trend forward in months and years to come.”

“This annual compliance report gives testament to Kentucky’s ongoing commitment to providing safe water to its citizens,” said DOW Director Paul Miller. “It is also an indicator of a commitment to not just meet, but exceed, goals and expectations outlined in EPA’s National Compliance Initiative, for Kentucky, Region 4 and the nation.”

The annual report summarizes the violations issued by the DOW in 2019, most of which are administrative and reflect issues with monitoring and reporting. However, Kentucky’s public water systems saw a decrease in monitoring and reporting violations in 2018 and compliance has further improved in 2019. The Division of Water has implemented electronic submittal, which should further increase compliance with monitoring and reporting requirements.

While the number of health-based violations at public water systems increased in 2015 and 2016 with the implementation of new Safe Drinking Water Act requirements for some public water systems, these violations decreased from 2017 through 2019, the report showed.

The 2019 drinking water compliance data also indicated no water systems exceeded the federally established limits for volatile and synthetic organic compounds or inorganic compounds (VOCs, SOCs or IOCs).

Violations related to disinfection byproducts (DBPs), a class of contaminants that result from the interaction of disinfection chemicals, such as chlorine, with natural organic material in water, constitute 74 percent of all health-based drinking water violations in Kentucky. The report showed a significant decrease in these health-based violations, from 122 in 2018 to 49 in 2019.

Water System Trends

The increase in health-based violations experienced in 2015 were anticipated due to the implementation of the federal rule for Stage 2 Disinfection Byproducts, which required “consecutive” public water systems that purchase water from another public water system and re-distribute that water to its customers to monitor for and meet newly established standards for DBPs. The consecutive public water systems were previously exempt from monitoring DBPs.

Because water age is generally greater in consecutive systems, an overall increase in health-based violations occurred in 2015 and 2016 when consecutive systems came under the DBP rule. Since then, with technical assistance from the Division of Water and the Kentucky Rural Water Association, public water systems have addressed and mitigated many of these DBP occurrences. Kentucky’s DBP violations have decreased nearly 85 percent since the initial increase in violations in 2015 and 2016.

The Kentucky Annual Drinking Water Compliance Report is online at

From Energy and Environment Cabinet