Kentucky River Basin Asessment Report

North Elkhorn Creek

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Geography. The North Elkhorn Creek watershed occupies northern Fayette County, southern Scott County, and part of western Franklin County. The land is in the Inner Bluegrass physiographic region, characterized by an undulating terrain and moderate rates of surface runoff and groundwater drainage. Most of the watershed lies above thick layers of easily dissolved limestone that form carbonate aquifers. Groundwater flows through channels in the limestone, so caves and springs are common in regions with this geology. Some areas lie above interbedded limestones and shales (>20% limestone, allowing groundwater flow where the clay content is low enough).

Waterways. The North Elkhorn runs generally northwest from its origin at the west edge of Fayette County and empties into the Kentucky River just east of Frankfort. Among the creeks that feed it are David Fork, Goose Creek, Boyd Run, Miller Run, Lanes Run, Dry Run, McCracken Creek, Blue Spring Branch, McConnell Run, and Lecomptes Run.

Land and water use. Land in the watershed is primarily agricultural, despite several densely settled areas. Residential and commercial areas make up about 10%, and less than 2% is forested. The watershed includes the north side of Lexington. The surface waters of the watershed supply the drinking water for the municipal systems in Georgetown and Stamping Ground. Twenty-eight businesses and organizations hold permits for discharges into the creeks. See tables for details.

Agency data assessment. The assessed creek segments in this watershed include six that do not support some or all of their designated uses, based on biological and/or water-quality data. Two others only partially support their uses. Agriculture, construction, and sewage from municipal systems and small package plants contribute to the impairment of these streams via siltation, pathogens, habitat modification, and nutrient enrichment. 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 show high levels of bacteria indicative of fecal contamination in Cane Run. Cane Run also exhibited elevated levels of several metals: aluminum, iron, and thallium. Phosphorus levels at all three volunteer sites were elevated enough to cause potential nutrient enrichment problems (> 0.1 mg/L). 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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