FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) - Increased monitoring for water pollution in Kentucky turned up more streams that don't fully support aquatic life, according to a report released Wednesday by the Kentucky Division of Water.
"This should not be interpreted as a declining trend in water quality but a reflection of increased monitoring," said David W. Morgan, director of the Division of Water, in a statement released with the report.
The report showed that 3,741 miles of streams in Kentucky don't fully support aquatic life, an increase of 741 miles over two years.
People are advised to limit the amount of fish they eat from 991 miles of Kentucky streams, up 10 percent from two years ago. The Ohio River is the primary culprit, with fish consumption advisories posted on 664 miles along the state's northern border. The contaminates include mercury and the cancer-causing chemicals polychlorinated biphenyls and dioxin.
The report pointed out that PCBs also contaminate fish in the Mud River and Town Branch Creek in Logan, Butler and Muhlenberg counties; West Fork Drakes Creek in Simpson and Warren counties; and Little Bayou Creek in McCracken County.
Agricultural runoff was the leading cause of water pollution in the state, impacting 2,850 miles of streams, according to the report. Mining was the second leading cause, polluting 1,520 miles of streams.
Bacterial contamination from untreated human waste continued to plague portions of eastern Kentucky.
The report said people could be exposed to E. coli bacteria by swimming in 2,147 miles of Kentucky steams, up 8 percent since 2004.
The streams listed were concentrated in eastern Kentucky in the upper reaches of the Cumberland River, the lower Licking River basin and the North Fork of the Kentucky River.
Tom VanArsdall, water quality branch manager in the Division of Water, said straight pipes, which allow commodes to flush directly into streams, continues to be a severe problem in the mountain region.
A federally funded initiative provides either grants or low-interest loans to homeowners in eastern Kentucky to install septic systems. It also pays for sewer line extensions into unserved communities in an effort to eliminate straight pipes.
Meanwhile, state inspectors have been cracking down on homeowners they find using straight pipes by citing them to court on pollution charges.
"We're certainly trying to address it," VanArsdall said. "There's no easy answer."
Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved