According to a recent report by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, more than 55 percent of the country’s rivers and streams are in poor biological health, unable to support healthy populations of aquatic insects and other creatures. The most widespread problem is excessive levels of nutrient pollution; high levels of phosphorus, found in detergents and fertilizers, were found in 40 percent of the nation’s rivers and streams.
The EPA also found more impaired waterways in West Virginia than the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection had reported. In March, the EPA gave the DEP a list that included 1,176 waterways previously designated as impaired by the state, and an additional 255 waterways identified by the EPA. The DEP left many streams off their impaired list as a result of a law passed in 2012 that ordered the DEP to abandon its existing methods of measuring stream health, and to instead come up with new methods to define biologically impaired streams. As a consequence of the law, when the DEP submitted their most recent list of impaired waters to the EPA, the state agency did not include the 255 new waterways that would have been considered impaired under the old system.
Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear signed a bill into law last month that allows qualifying land trusts to apply for conservation funding through the Kentucky heritage Land Conservation Fund. Under the law, land trusts are required to provide a one-to-one cash match for any funding given. The Nature Conservancy of Kentucky lauded the move, saying that the next step for the state would be to implement a state tax credit for land donation.