Improving and Documenting Water Quality in Clark's Run
CREEC works to protect and improve the water quality of Clark's Run by working collaboratively with local citizens and organizations to identify and document impacts to the creek, host creek cleanups that annually remove trash and debris, and participate in planning activities that will guide responsible use of the watershed to benefit the public for years to come.
The Ky Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Cabinet cited Clark's Run as "failing to adequately support aquatic life" in its 1992 Report on Water Quality. The main impairments cited by the report included high nutrients and low levels dissolved oxygen. Subsequent studies found that Clark's Run was adversely affected by stormwater runoff and pollution from non-point sources. Specific pollutants included sediment, bacteria, and unhealthy nutrients caused by septic tank leakage, land development, and runoff from pasture land.
In 1995, a chlorine spill from Danville's sewage treatment plant caused a fish kill in Clark's Run, which caused the Kentucky Division of Water to determine the creek was "unable to support aquatic life." This negative event and evaluation served as a red flag to the community and prompted greater public involvement in improving the local watershed.
Numerous creek cleanup events, in part organized by CREEC, resulted in several tons of trash being removed from Clark's Run, dramatically improved the appearance and habitat quality of the creek. The Danville sewage treatment plant was also upgraded to provide better treatment and prevent future spills. Local students and citizens also began sampling the creek through Kentucky's Water Watch program and the Watershed Watch.
Kentucky River Watershed Watch volunteers continue to sample water quality at multiple sites along Clark's Run on an annual basis. Water samples are tested for dissolved oxygen, temperature, nutrients, herbicides and pesticides, metals, alkalinity, chlorides, conductivity, suspended solids, and total hardness.
These sampling activities have found that dissolved oxygen levels are within acceptable limits, and while nitrogen levels were also within acceptable limits they were twice the amount found in other streams in Kentucky. Unfortunately, pathogen (fecal coliform and E coli) have frequently been found to exceed the state's water quality standard for safe swimming and wading.
CREEC has many partners in our efforts to protect and restore Clark's Run, including the Dix River Watershed Council.