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River in Kentucky


Active and completed KWRI Affiliated projects are listed below. Links to additional information have been included for more detail. 

  • In 2021, the project, A University-Community Partnership to Reduce Exposure to Disinfection Byproducts in Appalachia, was selected for funding by the National Institutes of Health's National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences' (NIEHS) Research to Action program. The five-year project brings together University of Kentucky researchers and members of three community-based nonprofits to identify and reduce drinking water disinfection byproduct (DBP) exposure in Martin and Letcher counties, using a multidisciplinary, stakeholder-engaged approach. The team is led by Jason Unrine, professor in the UK College of Agriculture, Food and Environment (CAFE), and Anna Goodman Hoover, assistant professor in the College of Public Health. The research team also includes Lindell Ormsbee, Director of the Kentucky Water Resources Research Institute, Kelly Pennell, Director of the UK Superfund Research Center, Jay Christian from College of Public Health, and Wayne Sanderson from CAFE . Community-based co-investigators are Mary Cromer from Appalachian Citizens’ Law Center, Courtney Rhoades from Headwaters Inc. and Betsy Taylor from Livelihoods Knowledge Exchange Network.

    This study will build on findings from two previous pilot studies and one community grant funded by the UK Center for Appalachian Research in Environmental Sciences (UK-CARES). These projects identified needs to expand DBP exposure sampling for both ingestion and inhalation and to incorporate seasonal fluctuations in DBP formation to understand factors influencing exposure risks. The researchers expect the study will generate new insights about DBP formation and exposure pathways while building local partnerships and capacity to reduce DBP exposures at the local level.

  • Many Appalachian communities are entrenched in poverty, lack jobs, have declining populations, experience resource depletion, and suffer from inequality and injustice that impacts their ability to provide adequate water services. To address these challenges, KWRI has joined with experts at West Virginia University (WVU), directed by the institution’s National Environmental Services Center (NESC), to provide free training and technical assistance to small Appalachian communities to proactively improve drinking water or wastewater services. This endeavor — the Appalachian Community Technical Assistance and Training (ACTAT) program is a partnership of NESC, the University of Kentucky’s KWRI, and the University of Tennessee-Knoxville’s Hydraulics and Sedimentation Lab and is funded by the Rural Utilities Service, a division of the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development Program.  Using the USDA and EPA's Rural and Small Systems Guidebook to Sustainable System Management and the companion Workshop in a Box: Sustainable Management of Rural and Small Systems Workshop (WIB) as a basis to provide outreach, technical assistance, and training activities to small communities in Kentucky, West Virginia, and Tennessee. Target participants include small water system operators and managers; local decision-makers such as mayors, commissioners and board members; and service personnel.

    More information about the program is available on the Appalachian Community Technical Assistance and Training (ACTAT) page on our website.

  • Since 2003, KWRI has been administering a Watershed Grant Program on behalf of the Kentucky River Authority (KRA).  These small grants of up to $5,000 enable community organizations to pursue local efforts to improve water quality conditions. In 2022, five projects were funded by this KRA grant program.


    To read more about current and past funded projects, visit the Watershed Grant Program page.

  • Kentucky River Watershed Watch is a tax-exempt, nonprofit organization formed in 1997 through the cooperation of the Sierra Club, the Kentucky Waterways Alliance, and the Division of Water's Water Watch program. Its membership focuses water quality monitoring and improvement efforts within the Kentucky River Basin. The basin extends over much of the central and eastern portions of the state and is home to approximately 710,000 Kentuckians. The watershed includes all or parts of 42 counties and drains over 7,000 square miles, with a tributary network of more than 15,000 miles.

    Learn more about the Kentucky River Watershed Watch.

  • The Kentucky Water Research Institute (KWRI), in partnership with the Kentucky Division of Water (KDOW), Kentucky Stormwater Association (KSA), and other key stakeholders, has been awarded funding through the Gulf Hypoxia Taskforce program to establish a training platform for Municipal Separate Storm Sewer (MS4) programs in Kentucky. More specifically, the program addresses the need for a cohesive, standardized structure for managing specific Minimum Control Measures (MCMs) related to priority pollutants (i.e., nutrients, sediment, bacteria) and pollutant load reduction. 

     Priority pollutants, nutrients, and nutrient load reduction will also be emphasized. Through the program, KWRI aims to facilitate collaborations amongst government agencies, academics, and private entities to develop and share content that would aid in compliance and improved water quality management across the state.  

    Learn more about KWRI's efforts on the MS4 Training Website

  • The Glenns Creek Watershed is located in Woodford and Franklin Counties in Central Kentucky. It covers a total area of approximately 33.8 square miles and includes much of the city of Versailles and the community of Millville. It is also the location of several notable horse farms and distilleries, which are signature industries for Kentucky.

    In 2021, a watershed planning project was initiated through a collaboration between the Kentucky Water Research Institute (KWRI), the University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service (UKCES), the City of Versailles, the Kentucky Division of Water (KDOW), and multiple industry and agricultural partners from throughout the watershed.  The goals of the project are 1) to characterize the waterways and watershed area, 2) to characterize the community stakeholder perspectives on the water resources, and  3) to increase the community leadership capacity for watershed improvement.

    For more information on the interactive watershed planning process, click here.

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