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Energy and Environment Cabinet

Division of Water
Swimming Advisories


Swimming advisories that have been in place for several years in different areas of the state will remain in effect until new data can be analyzed. 

The Division of Water in the Energy and Environment Cabinet and the Division of Public Health Protection and Safety in the Cabinet for Health and Family Services agree that advisories, in place because of high levels of fecal coliform bacteria, should remain in effect.

People should avoid recreational contact with waters in the areas specified because of the bacteria, which occur in human and animal waste and indicate the presence of untreated or inadequately treated sewage. The bacteria create a potential for diarrheal illnesses and other infectious diseases.

Public Advised of Potential Health Risks with Exposure to Water in Taylorsville Lake 06-27-2013

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Louisville District has identified an algal bloom (HAB) in Taylorsville Lake in Spencer County that can be harmful to people and animals. The levels of the harmful algae are occurring at the threshold where health effects may be observed. Federal and state health officials are advising the public of potential health risks associated with swimming in or ingesting the lake water and using the lake for watering pets or livestock.

To read the entire news release and access more information, click here. 

Swimming advisories will remain in effect for the following:

Upper Cumberland River
  • The Cumberland River from Fourmile Bridge (Highway 2014) to Pineville at the Highway 66 Bridge and from Wallins Creek Bridge (Highway 219) to Harlan.
  • Martins Fork from Harlan to the Cawood Water Plant.
  • All of Catron Creek, all of Clover Fork and all of Straight Creek.
  • Poor Fork from Harlan to Looney Creek.
  • Looney Creek from the mouth to Lynch Water Plant Bridge.
    Illegal straight pipe discharges, failing septic systems and bypasses from sewage collection systems contribute to water quality problems in these areas.

Kentucky River
North Fork of the Kentucky River upstream of Chavies.
Numerous illegal straight pipe discharges of sewage contribute to water quality problems along this section of the river. However, water quality has continued to improve and is approaching an acceptable level for swimming in some stretches of the river.

Licking River
Banklick Creek to the confluence with the Ohio River.
The swimming advisory includes all of Banklick Creek and Three Mile Creek. High fecal coliform pollution in this area is caused by combined sewer overflows and sanitary sewer overflows.

Residential and agricultural areas
The agencies also recommend against swimming or other full-body contact with surface waters immediately following heavy rainfall events, especially in dense residential, urban and livestock production areas. This recommendation is due to an increased potential for exposure to pollution from urban nonpoint source pollution, bypasses from sewage collection systems, combined sewer overflows and pollution from livestock waste.

New advisories will be issued if there are indications that any portions of the streams listed can be removed or any nonlisted streams need to be added. The Cabinet for Health and Family Services and local health department environmental health staff make sure all new septic system installations are installed properly, reducing bacterial pollution from these possible sources. Division of Water and wastewater plant operators monitor wastewater treatment plant compliance and ensure sewer overflows are minimized. Both agencies routinely address straight pipe issues and are gradually reducing the number of these discharges across the state.

For additional information about the safety of Kentucky's rivers and streams for swimming, contact John Brumley, Water Quality Branch.