Kentucky River Basin Asessment Report

Red River (upper)

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This watershed is now called the Red River Gorge watershed.

It is one of three priority watersheds for the first basin cycle.


Geography. The Red River (upper) watershed covers eastern Powell County, western Wolfe County, and part of Menifee County. The land is in the escarpment and plateau areas of the Eastern Kentucky Coal Field physiographic region, characterized by rolling to hilly terrain, medium to very rapid surface runoff, and slow to medium 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. Other parts lie above interbedded clay shales and siltstones.

Waterways. This watershed includes the section of the Red River from just west of Hazel Green to the junction of the Red River with the Middle Fork Red River (near Bowen). Among the creeks that feed the Red River in this watershed are Big Branch, Swift Camp Creek, Clifty Creek, Gladie Creek, Wolfpen Creek, Chimney Top Creek, Leatherwood Fork, Indian Creek, Spaas Creek, and Short Creek. Water also flows into the watershed from the Stillwater Creek and Red River (headwaters) watersheds.

Land and water use. Land in the watershed is mainly rural and wooded; about 15% is agricultural. The surface waters of the watershed supply the drinking water for the Campton municipal system. Nine 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 one (an unnamed tributary of Swift Camp Creek) that does not support all of its designated uses, based on biological and/or water-quality data. Siltation contributes to the impairment of the stream. 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 a moderate 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. A site on the Red River exhibited elevated chromium and selenium. A site on Swift Camp Creek showed elevated chromium. 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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