Division of Water
Streams and Lake Proposed for Special Protection

Press Release Date:  Thursday, June 19, 2008  
Contact Information:  Randy Payne, 502-564-3410  

The Energy and Environment Cabinet proposes to name five water bodies to Kentucky’s list of top-quality waters. The designation as Outstanding National Resource Waters (ONRW) will earn them additional regulatory protections to prevent degradation of their water quality and habitat.


“This is an important step in protecting these outstanding natural resources,” said Governor Steve Beshear. “The designation will help ensure that Kentucky citizens can enjoy these streams and lakes now and in the future.”


“All surface waters in Kentucky have designated uses that provide a basic level of protection for aquatic life, fish consumption, water recreation and drinking water,” said Energy and Environment Secretary Len Peters. “The ONRW designation provides additional protection to unique and special waters having excellent water quality and exceptional state or national ecological or recreational significance.”


Four of the water bodies are stream segments located in southeastern Kentucky within the Daniel Boone National Forest.


They are 15 stream miles of Marsh Creek and 17.5 of Rock Creek in McCreary County, 13.3 stream miles of the Rockcastle River on the border of Pulaski and Laurel counties, and 8.2 stream miles of War Fork of Station Camp Creek in Jackson County. Each stream is currently designated as a “special use water” because of exceptional natural or scenic beauty or because it supports federally threatened or endangered species, or a significantly diverse aquatic life indicating high water quality.


The fifth is Reelfoot Lake, a natural lake in the Reelfoot National Wildlife Refuge that straddles Kentucky’s southwestern border with Tennessee, lying in Fulton County, Ky., and Obion County, Tenn.


Reelfoot is a shallow, cypress-dominated lake and wetland habitat created by the powerful earthquakes during the winter of 1811-1812. The habitat provides several rookeries (colonies of breeding animals), including osprey and bald eagle nesting sites. In fact, the Reelfoot refuge provides habitat that supports the largest concentration of wintering bald eagles in the continental United States.


Tennessee already lists its portion of Reelfoot Lake National Wildlife Refuge as an ONRW. Coordination between the states has resulted in Kentucky’s desire to place waters in the refuge in the ONRW category on its side of the border.

The Kentucky legislature must approve the proposed water reclassifications.

     Visit the DOW Web page http://www.water.ky.gov/sw/specialwaters/ and click on “Proposed ONRWs” link for individual maps; a map of current Outstanding National Resource Waters in Kentucky may also be viewed by accessing the link “Map of Outstanding National Resource Waters” from this same DOW webpage.