December 4, 1998 | By: Mark Eclov

The rolling hills of Kentucky provide scenic views, but such topography also can pose a challenge for landowners who grow crops or raise livestock near streams and other surface water bodies.

"Many future water quality discussions in this state and across the nation will be based on watershed areas," said Bill Thom, Extension agronomist in the UK College of Agriculture. "Kentucky farm producers will have a major stake in the outcome of those discussions."

Watersheds are defined as surface water flowing to a stream from an identified area. "This water flow determines the land mass from which surface water moves to those streams," said Thom. "Much of the surface water in Kentucky ends up as drinking water supplies."

Thom said over the next six to twelve months discussion groups will be formed in some identified watersheds across the state. "Agencies such as the Cooperative Extension Service, other government agencies, and other agricultural groups will be involved in leading these discussions" he said.

Since a large portion of the watershed areas is owned by farm producers, Thom urges producers to find out when and where local meetings may be held. "Their input is essential to understand the challenges ahead, and in creating guidelines to keep these areas from contributing pollutants to water sources," he said.

Thom believes farm producers and landowners would benefit from learning how watersheds work, and from understanding and appreciating their possible impact. A recently-developed workbook will help them.

"The workbook is a self-assessment tool that also identifies best management practices that can prevent or reduce potential runoff problems in watershed areas," said Jennifer Cocanougher, Extension associate specialist for water quality in the UK College of Agriculture. She said the workbook is one of the outcomes of the recently-passed Kentucky Water Quality Act.

The workbook, and additional information on watershed management, can be obtained from the local office of the UK Cooperative Extension Service, or from Conservation District offices.


Writer: Mark Eclov
(606) 257-7223

Source: William Thom
(606) 257-4633