Forested Watersheds Raise Drinking Water Quality and Lower Infrastructure Costs

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Protecting watersheds is one of the most important ways to ensure reliable, safe drinking water.

In 2015, the Green River Valley Water District (District) learned of a timber harvesting operation in the Rio Verde Springs watershed in Hart County – the main water source for the District serving nearly 17,000 Kentuckians in five counties.  The District implemented a source water protection plan — prepared by the Kentucky Rural Water Association (KRWA) and approved by the Division of Water (DOW) — and by 2018 had acquired the 141-acre parcel.

While only a small fraction of water suppliers have direct control over their watersheds, the District has protected 224 acres within the Rio Verde Springs basin.

“I think water is the most precious commodity we have,” said David Paige, manager of the Green River Valley Water District. “The quality of the water we produce depends on the land that surrounds it. It is our duty to protect the Rio Spring and produce the best drinking water possible for our customers today and for generations to come.”

Rio Verde Springs is the primary source water for the district that it treats and distributes to wholesale customers in Hart, Green, LaRue, Barren and Metcalfe counties. It lies along a bend on the north side of the Green River and consists of five identified perennial springs whose flow is impounded by a dam to form a small reservoir.

The district’s Source Water Protection Plan was prepared by the Kentucky Rural Water Association (KRWA) and approved by the DOW. Matt Glass, source water specialist with Kentucky Rural Water Association said his organization provides technical assistance with the development of source water Protection plans to rural communities throughout the state.

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