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Water-quality assessment of the Kentucky River Basin, Kentucky: Results of investigations of surface-water quality, 1987-90

January 1, 1995

The U.S. Geological Survey investigated the water quality of the Kentucky River Basin in Kentucky as part of the National Water-Quality Assessment program. Data collected during 1987-90 were used to describe the spatial and temporal variability of water-quality constituents including metals and trace elements, nutrients, sediments, pesticides, dissolved oxygen, and fecal-coliform bacteria. Oil-production activities were the source of barium, bromide, chloride, magnesium, and sodium in several watersheds. High concentrations of aluminum, iron, and zinc were related to surface mining in the Eastern Coal Field Region. High concentrations of lead and zinc occurred in streambed sediments in urban areas, whereas concentrations of arsenic, strontium, and uranium were associated with natural geologic sources. Concentrations of phosphorus were significantly correlated with urban and agricultural land use. The high phosphorus content of Bluegrass Region soils was an important source of phosphorus in streams. At many sites in urban areas, most of the stream nitrogen load was attributable to wastewater-treatment-plant effluent. Average suspended-sediment concentrations were positively correlated with discharge. There was a downward trend in suspended-sediment concentrations downstream in the Kentucky River main stem during the study. The most frequently detected herbicides in water samples were atrazine, 2,4-D, alachlor, metolachlor, and dicamba. Diazinon, malathion, and parathion were the most frequently detected organophosphate insecticides in water samples. Detectable concentrations of aldrin, chlordane, DDT, DDE, dieldrin, endrin, endosulfan, heptachlor, and lindane were found in streambed-sediment samples. Dissolved-oxygen concentrations were sometimes below the minimum concentration needed to sustain aquatic life. At some sites, high concentrations of fecal-indicator bacteria were found and water samples did not meet sanitary water-quality criteria.

Publication Year 1995
Title Water-quality assessment of the Kentucky River Basin, Kentucky: Results of investigations of surface-water quality, 1987-90
DOI 10.3133/wri954163
Authors K. H. Haag, Rene Garcia, G. L. Jarrett, S. D. Porter
Publication Type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Series Title Water-Resources Investigations Report
Series Number 95-4163
Index ID wri954163
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse