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Monitoring the Impacts of the Animal Research Center on Surface Water and Groundwater Quality

Contact: Alex Fogle

The University of Kentucky College of Agriculture has constructed the UK Animal Research Center on karst terrain in Woodford County. Because karst areas can be polluted by contaminants from the surface, the Agricultural Water Quality Authority requires every farm in Kentucky to have a water-quality protection plan. To comply with this requirement, the Kentucky Geological Survey and the UK College of Agriculture are monitoring water quality at streams, springs, and wells on the property. Collected data are available for teaching, research, planning, and construction. Studies are under way to determine movement and storage of water in the soil and karst aquifers for hydrologic modeling purposes.

Since October 1996, over 1,600 water samples have been collected, resulting in more than 29,600 constituent analyses. Thirty-seven sets of composite storm samples have been collected at seven stream sites by electronic sampling equipment since February 1, 2000. Since November 1994, weather data from the center's weather station and stage and flow data from six streams have been collected and archived. Nitrate-nitrogen, pH, electrical conductivity, temperature, dissolved oxygen content, and turbidity have been continuously monitored at the center's principal pour point since January 1997.

The center's activity is definitely affecting surface-water quality, but the impact appears to be seasonal. For some constituents, such as fecal coliform, water quality is degraded most of the year. Pollution from sources outside of the center has also been detected.

Diurnal variations in several parameters, including nitrate-nitrogen, have been detected at the center's principal pour point. These variations and their impact on sampling strategy are being investigated.

The project is funded through the Kentucky Senate Bill SB-271 Water Quality Program administered by the UK College of Agriculture, and by funds from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. It is a cooperative effort between the Kentucky Geological Survey and the UK Department of Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering.