The goal of this study was to demonstrate the effectiveness of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Water Quality Incentive Program (WQIP) in protecting ground-water quality. The study area was chosen because the terrain is mature karst and land use in the Pleasant Grove Spring Basin is predominantly agricultural. The Logan County office of the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service received funding in April 1995 to implement a variety of best management practices (BMP's). Ground-water quality was monitored by KGS before, during, and after BMP implementation to determine if water quality changed after BMP implementation. The monitoring, which ended in November 1998, was funded by section 319 of the Clean Water Act in a grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency through the Nonpoint Source Section of the Kentucky Division of Water.
Evaluation of monitoring results indicates that changes in water quality after BMP implementation are mixed. Suspended sediment and some bacteria counts showed improvement, but triazines and nutrient concentrations showed no change or were slightly worse. Therefore, improvement in water quality as a direct result of the BMP's could not be demonstrated in this real-world setting. The effectiveness of the practices that were implemented and the WQIP's success in influencing producers to select the most effective BMP's will need to be reevaluated by the USDA.
KGS Report of Investigations 1 (ser.12), covering the first 3 years of the project, has been published. A final report on the last 3 years of monitoring and evaluation of the WQIP has been submitted to the funding agency and will be published as a KGS Report of Investigations.