Kentucky River Basin Asessment Report

N. Fork (lower)

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Geography. 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 Creek.

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 details.

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.


Click here to view tables for this watershed, in PDF format. These tables include land-use characteristics, designated uses, stream assessments, public water supply and water withdrawal sites, permitted discharge sites, gaging and sampling sites, volunteer data, and values for the 35 indicators used in calculating watershed rankings. (You need Adobe Acrobat Reader to view the tables: Adobe Systems will let you download a free copy.)

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