The North Fork Kentucky
River (lower) watershed covers the northern edge of Breathitt County, and a
small corner of Wolfe County. The land is in the Eastern Kentucky Coal Field
physiographic region, characterized by mountainous terrain, rapid surface
runoff, and moderate rates of groundwater drainage. The watershed is underlain
by coals, sandstones, and shales: this geology is generally conducive to
productive wells, although water quality may be low for wells that draw from
coal layers. Parts of the watershed lie over sandstone aquifers.
Waterways. This watershed includes the section of the North Fork
between the mouth of Troublesome Creek (at Haddix) and Beattyville. Among many
creeks that feed it within this watershed are Miller Branch, Mill Creek, War
Creek, Big Bloody Creek, Cave Branch, Laurel Branch, and Blaines Branch. Water
also flows into this watershed from the following other watersheds: North Fork
Kentucky River (middle), Middle Fork Kentucky River (lower), South Fork of
Quicksand, Quicksand Creek, Cane Creek, Frozen Creek, Boone Fork, Holly Creek,
Upper Devil Creek, Lower Devil Creek, Hell Creek & Walker Creek, and Crystal
Land and water use. Land in the watershed is largely rural and wooded
but about 10% agricultural. The surface waters of the watershed supply the
drinking water for municipal systems in Beattyville and Jackson. Five businesses
and organizations hold permits for discharges into the creeks. See tables for
Agency data assessment. Four waterway segments were assessed in this
watershed, and two do not support some or all of their designated uses, based on
biological and/or water-quality data. One segment of the North Fork is impaired
by pathogens from animal and human wastes. Panbowl Lake exhibited organic
enrichment/low oxygen. See tables for details.
Watershed rankings. The ranking formula provides a preliminary
ranking by synthesizing a broad spectrum of watershed characteristics, current
conditions, and threats. This watershed ranks in the group with the highest need
for protection and/or restoration. This rating is for the watershed on average:
particular sites and particular waters within the watershed may vary widely. See
tables for details.
Volunteer data. Data for the North Fork indicate elevated levels of
sulfate, antimony, and selenium. See tables for details.