Water Quality in Kentucky

Kentucky has 13 major river basins containing over 89,400 miles of streams. More than 400 miles of streams have been designated “Outstanding Resource Waters”  and one hundred fourteen miles of nine streams have been designated “Wild Rivers.”

Kentucky has an estimated 325,000 acres of marsh vegetated wetlands, 320,000 acres of lake wetlands, and 75,000 acres of river wetlands.  Fifty-five percent of all rare and endangered species in Kentucky are either located in or dependent upon wetland areas.

In addition, a significant portion of the state has karst geological formations. The hydrogeology of karst aquifers makes the groundwater vulnerable to pollution.

Lead in Drinking Water Workgroup

Representatives from Kentucky’s Division of water and others have been involved in assessing lead risks to the public, as a Kentucky response to the concerns raised during the Flint. Michigan water crisis.  The Flint water crisis is a drinking water contamination issue that started in April, 2014 when the city of Flint changed its water source from the treated Detroit Water and Sewerage Department (sourced from Lake Huron and the Detroit River) to the Flint River, which was complicated by the fact that officials had failed to apply corrosion inhibitors when the switch was made. This lack of corrosion inhibitors created a serious public health crisis when the improperly treated water caused lead from aging pipes to leach into the water supply, causing extremely elevated levels of lead into the system.

Lead, a heavy metal, is also a neurotoxin and is particularly hazardous to children. Between 6,000 and 12,000 children in Flint are estimated to have been exposed to drinking water with high levels of lead.

Due to the change in water source, the percentage of Flint children with elevated blood-lead levels may have risen from about 2.5% in 2013 to as much as 5% in 2015.

Kentucky’s Drinking Water Advisory Council Lead in Drinking Water Workgroup has been meeting through most of 2016.

Other Water Resource Links:

Civic Groups/Nonprofits