Best Management Practices: Things we can do to reduce polluted runoff

BMP Example

By installing a fence (a BMP), grazing livestock and their waste will be kept out of Hinkston Creek. This will reduce the amount of bacteria, sediment, and nutrients entering the water. If the animal waste was allowed to enter Hinkston Creek, the nutrients in the waste would contribute to algae growth, the bacteria would make the water unsafe for swimming, the ammonia in the urine would affect fish respiration, and the sediment would reduce the habitat for fish and their prey.

A “best management practice,” or BMP, reduces pollution in a watershed. When properly selected, designed and implemented, BMPs reduce or eliminate the amount of polluted runoff—caused when pollutants on the land are washed into Hinkston Creek or its tributaries by rain or snowmelt—that enters Hinkston Creek. By keeping pollutants on the land and out of Hinkston Creek, the water quality of Hinkston Creek will improve.

BMPs can be structural or non-structural. A structural BMP requires design, construction, installation and maintenance—such as erecting a fence or planting a vegetated stream buffer. Non-structural BMPs are changes in practices—such as fertilizer application, manure management, or bush-hogging practices. BMPs should be selected based on the type of pollutants and their sources in the watershed. The Hinkston Creek Watershed Plan can be used to select BMPs and target their location. Agriculture is the primary land use in the Hinkston Creek Watershed and the key pollutants are nutrients, bacteria, and sediment. These pollutants are also linked to urban areas in the watershed, including construction sites, septic system locations, and residential areas where lawns are fertilized.

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Top Five BMPs for the Hinkston Creek Watershed

The following are the top five BMPs that would do the most to clean up water quality in Hinkston Creek in Montgomery, Bourbon, and Nicholas counties in Kentucky. These management practices target polluted runoff, which is caused when pollutants on the land are washed into Hinkston Creek or its tributaries by rain or snowmelt. Installation of these BMPs will contribute to removing Hinkston Creek from Kentucky’s “Most Polluted Waters List(715 pp, 2.7MB) by 2010.

Stabilize Channels With Vegetation

BMP #1 Stabilize Channels With Vegetation

Ditches, swales, drainage channels, and creek banks will erode if they are not stabilized with vegetation. Flowing water tends to melt away the soil along the banks—the roots of grasses, shrubs, and trees helps hold it in place. If you see bare soil along channels where water flows, think about how the banks might be graded and revegetated.

Bank stabilization project resources:

BMP #2: Control Livestock Creek Access

Cattle need water all the time, and shade during hot weather. We need to find ways to provide water and shade away from the creek if possible, to prevent feces and urine from contaminating the creek. In many cases, cattle exclusion fencing can be installed, along with alternative water sources. If cattle need to be watered by a creek, a water gap can be installed to restrict access to a designated area, with gently sloping banks and a rock or hardpan bottom. Funding for these projects may be available from farm agencies or other groups.

Cattle exclusion fencing and related funding resources:

BMP #3: Manage Pasture Grass Cover

Maintaining a healthy stand of pasture grass to support maximum cattle weight gain—and minimal soil erosion—takes a little time and effort. There are many options for managing pastures, including open pasture grazing, paddock grazing, rotation, and so on. Two easy indicators to check are grass height and grass density. Grass that is less than 2 inches high is a sign that cattle might need to be moved soon, or have supplemental feed. Bare spots in the field also indicate the pasture needs resting.

Pasture management resources:

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BMP #4: Clean Up Pavement Runoff

Roads, parking lots, loading docks, material storage areas, and vehicle maintenance yards can be sources of pollutants, such as fuel, oil, grease, litter, sediment, and various chemicals. Look over your property, and think about what happens when it rains; If it’s on the ground, it will soon be in our waterways. Keep pavement clean, and clean up spills promptly. Store materials indoors or under a tarp if it will cause polluted runoff.

Controlling contaminated stormwater runoff resources:

BMP #5: Control Sediment Runoff

Construction sites and other bare soil areas can cause muddy runoff and creek contamination. The best approach for controlling erosion and sediment loss is to get to final grade, complete the project, and re-seed and mulch the area as quickly as possible. There are lots of approaches and products for controlling sediment runoff.

Construction sediment resources:

* Note: These documents are very large and may take some time to download.

The BMPs listed above represent only a few that could be implemented in the Hinkston Creek Waterhsed. Specifications and funding are available for an extensive list of best management practices.

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For more information on BMPs

The following sites provide more information on BMPs.

Screen shot from the eFOTG website.

The Watershed Planning Guidebook for Kentucky Communities
Chapter five of the guidebook provides a description of BMPs.

National Resources Conservation Service’s Electronic Field Office Technical Guides (eFOTGs) for Kentucky
By clicking on the county of choice in Kentucky, users have access to field office technical guides that apply to specific Kentucky counties.

National Conservation Practice Standards
This page lists in alphabetical order conservation standards and supporting documents for each standard including information sheets and worksheets.

National Resources Conservation Service’s Electronic Field Office Technical Guides
Users can locate field office technical guides from across the United States through this site.

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