Stream Quality Issues in the Bluegrass

Aug 6, 2012

Water quality continues to trouble several streams in Fayette and Scott counties.   The state is taking public comment through early September.  Portions of seven streams in two central Kentucky counties flow into the Cane Run Watershed.  And, Eric Liebenauer with the State Division of Water, says people should avoid all seven.  “All of them are impaired for what’s called primary contact recreation, which is basically full body immersion.  In layman’s terms, we think of that as swimming,” said Liebenauer.

The pollution partly stems from farm animal waste and three sewer treatment plants, which serve trailer parks in Fayette and Scott counties.

“There’s some urban sources at both ends of the watershed.  The headwaters are in an urbanized area in Fayette county and then the downstream end of the watershed stops in some of the more urbanized areas of Scott county,” added Liebenauer.

Liebenauer says it’s not always easy to tell which stream carries an unhealthy amount of polluted water.

“The problem is, you can’t always tell by looking at a stream, anyting about the water quality.  Pathogens tend to be higher when there is a higher silt load.  So, if the water is browner or more opaque, that may be a hint that there are pathogens or bacteria rather attached to the suspended particles,” said Liebenauer.

Details on the kinds of pollution are available in a draft report issue by the Division of Water.  It’s accepting public comment on those conclusions until September 4th.