KWRRI Research Reports


The purpose of this study was to apply the "uniqueness concept" to the quantification of the intangible values of natural streams. The methodology is based on procedures developed by Luna B. Leopold and Maria O. Marchand of the U.S. Geological Survey. It involves the evaluation of a set of characteristics or factors for selected stream sites. Each factor is rated for each site on a numerical scale indicative of the range of possible "values" for that factor. An "uniqueness ratio" (the reciprocal of the number of stream sites sharing a given category rating) is then computed for each stream for each factor in the set. Summing the "uniqueness ratios" for all the factors for a given stream yields a "total uniqueness ratio". Those streams with the highest "total uniqueness ratio" are considered to be the most unique. The present study utilized an inventory of fifty-four factors which were evaluated for each study stream. The inventory was divided into five factor groups: Physical Measures, Land Use Measures, Water Quality Measures, Disvalues and Esthetic Impression Measures.

Two types of streams were studied: Preference streams and Random streams. Sixteen Preference streams were selected from lists of wild, scenic and recreational streams prepared by two state agencies. Forty-two Random streams were selected, using a random number table, from a small watershed inventory prepared by the U.S. Soil Conservation Service. The sampling process insured that streams be selected from each of the eight physiographic regions of Kentucky. Thus, a total of fifty-eight streams were studied.

Conclusions reached were:

  1. The "uniqueness ratio" concept can successfully be used to evaluate "relative uniqueness" within a group of streams.
  2. Higher values of the "total uniqueness ratio" were obtained for those streams that were in "bad" condition or that had been abused by man's activities than for those streams that were of relatively high quality.
  3. Some of the streams ranking highest in "total uniqueness" were those situated in highly developed areas, an indication of the essentially rural nature of the state of Kentucky and the effects of development and urbanization on the environmental quality of small watersheds.
  4. Streams located in the Eastern Coal Field generally represented the most natural, rugged, and esthetic streams of the study.
  5. The streams located in the Western Coal Field generally represented the most highly exploited and least esthetic streams of the study.

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Funding Information

The work upon which this report is based was supported by funds provided by the United States Department of the Interior, Office of Water Resources Research, as authorized under the Water Resources Research Act of 1964.