A Citizen's Guide to Water Quality

Go green with us! The City of Bardstown is dedicated to providing information to citizens about water quality issues in the community. This page contains information for homeowners and renters alike about what you can do to prevent stormwater pollution and take care of our sanitary sewers.



What can I safely pour down the drain?
Many liquids that people commonly pour down the drain are not compatible with the sanitary sewer system.  Everything that goes down your sink, toilet, and floor drains ends up in the sanitary sewer system and at one of our wastewater treatment plants. Treatment plants are designed to treat human wastes and are not capable of treating petroleum products, solvents, pesticides, hazardous chemicals, or cooking grease. 

Solvents and petroleum products such as mineral spirits, paint thinner, acetone and gasoline can create an explosive atmosphere in the sewer lines. In 1981, an explosion in Louisville, Kentucky destroyed over two miles of streets. The cause was a local industry disposing of hexane in the sewer system. 

Pest control products and weed killers can also be toxic to the sewer system or pass through the treatment plant into the local streams. The two sewage plants that treat Bardstown’s sewage use biological systems in the treatment process. The process utilizes millions of live bacteria to break down the sewage wastes. Pest and weed killers can shock or even kill the biological mass. This can result in wastes passing through the plant untreated into the receiving streams. Many of these chemicals aren't treatable and pass through the sewer plant and into the streams where they are toxic to fish and other aquatic life.

Fats, oil and grease produced from cooking may be liquids when they are poured into the drain, but they will solidify in the sewer pipes, causing clogs and blockages.  These grease-related blockages are a significant cause of sanitary sewer overflows.  Grease clogs can also cause sewer back-ups and draining problems in your home.

Fats, oil & grease (FOG) from cooking can clog your pipes, causing messy sewage overflows and sewer back-ups in your home.  You can help by making sure that no FOG goes down YOUR drain.  Follow the tips below to keep your sewers FOG-free!

Where is FOG found?

When you're cooking and cleaning up, the fats, oil & grease from your food are liquids.  But FOG will cool inside of sewer pipes and harden into a solid that can clog pipes and lead to sewer overflows and back-ups both outside and in your home.




Additional Resources



  1. Build a Rain Garden - The City of Bardstown is pleased to promote the use of rain barrels. Below we have provided directions on how we make rain barrels. Some of the tools are specialized and can be costly. However, recommended less expensive alternatives are discussed. You can put your own rain barrel together for about $20.
    Download a How-To Guide for Creating a Rain Garden >>

  2. Install a Lily Rain Barrel

  3. Do Your Duty : Pick up after your pet - When it rains, pet waste left in yards and on sidewalks is washed into storm drains, which lead straight to our creeks and streams. When pet waste decays, it depletes oxygen from water, which can be harmful for fish, plants and other stream wildlife. The nutrients in pet waste also promote weed and algae growth, which further damages our streams. Additionally, pet waste carries bacteria, viruses, and parasites that can threaten human and environmental health.

    What can I do to help?
    Do your duty - always pick up after your pet!  Follow the tips below to keep pet waste out of our creeks and streams.
    • Pick up pet waste from yards, trails and sidewalks. Pet waste should be bagged placed in your Herbie or another trash can.
    • Pet waste can be buried in your yard in a hole at least 6 inches deep. Pet waste should not be buried close to vegetable gardens, play areas, wells or streams. Never use pet waste as a fertilizer or for compost.
      Carry a plastic bag with you when you walk your dog. You can use the bag like a glove: pick up the pet waste, turn the glove inside out around the waste, tie it and put it in your Herbie or another trash can.
    • Always wash your hands after dealing with pet waste.

  4. Practice Environmentally Friendly Lawn Care - When you're fertilizing the lawn, you're not just fertilizing the lawn. When it rains, stormwater can wash fertilizer from your yard into the street and down storm drains. These storm drains lead directly to our creeks and streams, damaging water quality. In fact, 8 of 9 watersheds in Fayette County have impaired streams due to nutrients contained in fertilizers, like nitrogen and phosphorous. Other lawn leavings can be harmful to our creeks and streams as well.  Pesticides from your yard contain chemicals that can harm water quality and stream wildlife.  Grass clippings and leaves can clog storm drains and decrease oxygen levels in water when they decay.

    What can I do to help?
    • Don't Guess, Soil Test
A simple soil test will tell you what fertilizer, if any, you need for your yard. You can get a test for $6 from the Nelson County Extension Office.
    • Sweep fertilizer, mulch and grass clippings that spill on your driveway and sidewalk back onto your lawn. You'll save money and keep those materials from being washed into storm drains.
    • Leave grass clippings on your yard and do not rake, as they are a natural fertilizer.  Clippings left on the lawn return nitrogen and phosphorous to your yard - for free!
    • Never fertilize before it rains. Stormwater will wash the fertilizer from your yard to the street and into the storm drain. The storm drains empties into our creeks and streams.
    • Mow your lawn high - when the  grass is 3", it will make your yard easier and cheaper to maintain. Tall grass promotes deeper root growth and a healthier lawn.
    • Follow
 the directions on the bag. The manufacturer provides information to homeowners on fertilizers and pesticides:  how to apply, how much and when to apply.

  5. Best Management Practices for Landscaping Operations - You can help keep our waterways clean by following these Best Management Practices for landscaping operations.

    • Your responsibility to the environment starts as soon as you pick up your materials. Avoid overloading trucks with mulch that will spill out onto the road. Not only does this waste your materials, but mulch on the road ends up in the nearest storm drain, reaching our waterways.
    • Grass and leaves should never be blown into the street or into storm drains.
    • Use a mulching mower and leave grass clippings on the lawn.
    • Compost leaves, sticks, or other collected vegetation or dispose of it at a permitted landfill. Do not dispose of collected vegetation into storm sewers or waterways.
    • Place collected material away from storm drain inlets and waterways. Any material left out overnight or during rain should be covered.
    • Apply fertilizers, pesticides and other chemicals in moderation.
    • Do not apply fertilizers or pesticides if rain is predicted over the next day. They will not remain on the lawn and will wash into the nearest storm drain or creek.
    • Sweep sidewalks, driveways and streets if fertilizer is spilled on these surfaces.
    • Train employees to follow these Best Management Practices. Install BMP signs in vehicles as reminders.
    • Blowing or raking yard waste into storm drains, creeks and waterways is prohibited by law. Violators will be subject to penalties including Notices of Violation, Civil Citations, and fines.
    • Grass, leaves, mulch and other yard waste may seem harmless, but these materials can have a devastating effect on creeks and streams. When yard waste ends up in our waterways, it decays and depletes oxygen, suffocating fish and other aquatic life. Nutrients from yard waste also promote excess algae growth, further polluting streams and ponds.
    For more information about local water quality issues, please contact: City of Bardstown Engineering Department at (502) 348-5947.

  6. The Four Seasons of Water Quality Protection - A yard provides a very personal place to observe the four seasons. The first blooming bulbs of spring, tomatoes or corn of summer in the garden, fiery colors of autumn or the first winter snowfall are all important, annual events. Each season also has its own landscape maintenance needs. Home landscape management activities have impacts far beyond the individual property lines,  eighborhoods, and town boundaries because of the way landscapes are linked together by water moving through the environment. By recognizing how each home landscape is connected to the environment as a whole and managing the landscape with this connection in mind, everyone can make a contribution to protecting and restoring all natural resources,  specially local water quality. Where does one start in creating an environmentally friendly home landscape? It can seem like an overwhelming project, but it doesn’t have to be. Very small changes in everyday landscape management activities in every season of the year can add up to very big changes in water quality protection.