KWRRI Research Reports
Assessment of Water Quality Trends in the Upper Cumberland River Basin: Focus on Pathogen Impairment
This project consisted of analyzing existing water quality data for streams in the Upper Cumberland River Basin, with a particular focus on pathogen trends. According to the most recent 303(d) list of Kentucky waters, the majority of streams assessed in the Upper Cumberland Basin are impaired for primary recreational contact as a result of pathogens. The state pathogen standard for primary contact recreation is expressed in a dual form which specifies that the 30-day geometric mean of fecal coliform counts not exceed 200 colonies per 100 mL (on a minimum of five samples) and not more than 20 percent of samples should exceed 400 colonies per 100 mL (KAR, 2002). Historical monitoring data were utilized to assess fecal coliform concentrations and to evaluate the level of success of previous and ongoing projects in the basin. These projects are being funded and implemented through Section 319(h) of the EPA Clean Water Act, Eastern Kentucky PRIDE, the USCOE 531 wastewater program, and the Kentucky Wastewater Program to reduce the level of pathogens in the basin. The assessment utilized historic monitoring data obtained from four different sources: 1) the KYDOW ambient water quality network, 2) the KYDOW focused sampling network, 3) the Kentucky Watershed Watch network, and 4) the University of Kentucky monitoring network. The evaluation involved the analysis of the combined data sets using standard statistical measures to assess pathogen trends and project impacts. Land use patterns were documented to help identify likely pathogen sources, and areas of BMP implementation were examined for correlation with any water quality improvements. Decreases in fecal coliform concentrations were noted for several individual sampling sites throughout the basin and for the aggregated data from the entire basin considered together. Products generated under this project are to be disseminated via print and electronic means to the widest possible audience, utilizing targeted email, the internet, news media and presentations to the Upper Cumberland River Basin Team, local officials and others. An Upper Cumberland Pathogen Summit was held on November 15, 2005 at Pine Upper Cumberland Water Quality Assessment Study 3 Mountain State Park to share project results with interested stakeholders. Additional data and details on the specific types of analyses associated with the study can be obtained from the following web site: (http://pride.uky.edu/ucproject/uchome.html).
The project was coordinated by the Kentucky Water Resources Research Institute (KWRRI) at the University of Kentucky and involved staff from the KWRRI as well as faculty and students from the Department of Civil Engineering. The project was coordinated with TMDL personnel associated with the Kentucky Division of Water.
This project was conducted in cooperation with the State of Kentucky and the United States Environmental Protection Agency, Region 4. Grant # C9994861-99
Kentucky Water Resources Institute, "Assessment of Water Quality Trends in the Upper Cumberland River Basin: Focus on Pathogen Impairment" (2006). KWRRI Research Reports. 258.