Nearly 9,600 miles of streams flow through the Licking River Basin's 3,700 square miles in 22 counties. From a hill in southern Magoffin County 1,600 feet above sea level, the Licking River runs northwest down to the Ohio River at 448 feet above sea level.
The underlying rocks in the basin are, in general, dominated by shale. This creates a large number of perennial streams in the basin and provides a foundation for ponds and lakes, but also limits the potential for water wells. There are 29,000 acres of wetland in the basin.
Residents draw about 24 million gallons of water per day (mgd) from streams and reservoirs in the basin. On average, about 2,770 mgd flow into the Ohio, but about once every 10 years, only 2 mgd will flow at the mouth for a week. This variability in flow affects water users and stream life.
More than 550 miles of assessed streams in the basin do not support designated uses for warm-water aquatic habitat or primary contact recreation. Not all streams have been assessed. The percentage of assessed streams not supporting uses was: warm-water aquatic habitat (45%); primary contact recreation (68%). Nearly 100 miles of streams have been declared special use waters: either, cold water aquatic habitat, exceptional waters, reference reach waters, or outstanding state resource waters.
There are five remediation priority watersheds including 430 square miles: primary impacts are pathogens, nutrients, and siltation.
There are many communities just outside the perimeter of the Basin that discharge treated wastewater into the basin, and may impact the Basin in other ways. For this reason, they are shown on the map.
Map and Chart 191
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)
Carey, Daniel I., "Licking River Basin" (2009). Kentucky Geological Survey Map and Chart. 190.