Explore. Connect. Protect.

Our Mission: To support water quality monitoring that informs, connects, and empowers volunteers and their communities for the improvement and protection of Kentucky’s water resources.

Watch a video about Watershed Watch to learn more - click here.

River Basins in Kentucky

Kentucky is divided into 7 major river basins, including the Kentucky River Basin.

Each river basin includes all of the land drained by many streams, creeks and springs that flow downhill into one another, eventually forming rivers.

Watershed Watch in Kentucky serves the entire state, and Kentucky River Watershed Watch focuses on carrying out the organization's mission specifically within the Kentucky River Basin (in yellow on map to the left).

Who We Are

Sampling Volunteers - KRWW is supported by over 200 active volunteers who give their time to improve our waterways through skills development, water quality monitoring, community outreach and education and water improvement efforts.

Steering Committee - A dedicated group of KRWW leaders meets regularly to coordinate our sampling events and related activities, review sampling data, discuss focused watershed area projects, explore funding opportunities, and ensure that the organization runs smoothly.

Watershed Watch in Kentucky - This statewide organization coordinates volunteer water monitoring across Kentucky. Kentucky River Watershed Watch is one of seven basin groups that monitor streams, rivers and lakes across our state. Click HERE to learn more about our larger organization.

Partners - KRWW could not do its work without the critical support from our major partners.

What We Do

Train Samplers - We hold 3-4 free training workshops each spring to train new volunteers and recertify existing volunteers. Online training has also recently been developed.

Loan Sampling Equipment - We loan test kits to trained volunteers so they can test water quality (pH, dissolved oxygen, conductivity, temperature). If desired, samplers also receive supplies for assessing stream biology and habitat.

Collect Water Quality Data - Our volunteers choose a stream to monitor, or we can help you find a site. Samplers use their test kits and collect bacteria samples three times each year in May, July and September. Stream biology and habitat are studied each June.

Analyze Sampling Results - At the conclusion of each sampling year, we summarize and assess the findings and share it with our volunteer samplers through a report and presentation during the annual conference.

Provide Environmental Education - Our board members and others in the organization attend conferences, workshops and youth events to teach about water quality and what we are doing to protect and improve it.

Promote Water Quality Improvement - We provide guidance and suggestions for putting water quality findings to use through local water improvement initiatives. Many of our sampling areas have progressed from backyard sampling to federally approved watershed improvement plans with associated funding.

Host Annual Conferences and Other Events - We coordinate an annual conference (usually in February) to present sampling results, provide organization updates, and hear from relevant speakers.

Where We Work

The Kentucky River Basin encompasses nearly 7,000 square miles in 41 counties and contain 16,000 miles of stream. From a hill in Letcher County nearly 3,200 feet above sea level, the Kentucky River descends from the Eastern Kentucky Coal Field, Knobs and Bluegrass Regions to the Ohio River at 420 feet above sea level.

The Three Forks of the Kentucky River, the South Fork, Middle Fork and North Fork, drain through the mountainous, coal-producing regions of Kentucky. Once the Three Forks converge near Beattyville to form the mainstem of the Kentucky River, the topography begins to level out as the river makes its way through the remaining 255 miles to the Ohio River. Along the way, the Kentucky River captures flow from the major tributaries of the Red River, Dix River, Elkhorn Creek and Eagle Creek.

In order to understand the quality of water in a particular area, one must also understand the land use, topography, geology and other natural conditions that contribute to it. The Kentucky River Basin is a large and varied landscape, from the Appalachian mountain region of its headwaters in southeastern Kentucky, through the knobs and palisades of central Kentucky, to the floodplains of the Ohio River. The human land uses within the Basin are also varied and contribute to the overall health of its waterways. Forested areas still exist throughout the basin, but there are also many areas that are heavily developed or are used for agricultural purposes or resource extraction.

Kentucky River Watershed Watch - PO Box 1248 - Frankfort, KY 40602 - (502)330-1748

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