Geography. The North Fork Kentucky River (upper) watershed covers the
northwest corner of Letcher County and part of Perry 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.
Waterways. This watershed includes the section of the North Fork
between the mouth of Rockhouse Creek (near Blackey) and the mouth of Big Creek
(between Combs and Typo at the Daniel Boone Parkway). Among many creeks that
feed it within this watershed are Bull Creek, Big Branch, and Buckeye Creek.
Water also flows into this watershed from the North Fork (headwaters), Rockhouse
Creek, Line Fork, Leatherwood Creek, Maces Creek, Carr Fork and Lotts Creek
Land and water use. Land in the watershed is nearly all rural and
wooded. The surface waters of the watershed supply the drinking water for
municipal systems in Blackey and Hazard. Nine businesses and organizations hold
permits for discharges into the creeks. See tables for details.
Agency data assessment. The assessed creek segment in this watershed
does not support some or all of its designated uses, based on biological and/or
water-quality data. 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. Two sites were sampled in 1999. Data show high levels
of bacteria indicative of fecal contamination at one of the sites (above 200
colonies/ml). Phosphorus levels there were elevated enough to cause potential
nutrient enrichment problems (> 0.1 mg/L). Both sites also exhibited high
levels of several metals. See tables for details.