Fayette County

Are you a ‘creek geek?’ Lexington needs volunteers to test West Hickman creek.

How you can help keep Lexington creeks clean

Lexington's Division of Water Quality is seeking volunteers to participate in sampling the water quality of Lexington creeks. They will be holding a training session on Tuesday, August 21 to train volunteers on how to collect water samples.
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Lexington's Division of Water Quality is seeking volunteers to participate in sampling the water quality of Lexington creeks. They will be holding a training session on Tuesday, August 21 to train volunteers on how to collect water samples.

Thanks to volunteer water testers, the city of Lexington found a busted Kentucky American Water pipe and a leaking sanitary sewer pipe in the Cane Run watershed two years ago.

Now, it needs dozens more volunteers for an even more ambitious project — testing more than 80 outflows, or pipes, that go into the West Hickman Creek watershed.

The city started using trained volunteers to help it test water quality as part of its state water quality permit three years ago. The volunteers allow the city to test more sites as it monitors Lexington’s creeks and watersheds. It also allows people who are interested in water quality, creeks and aquatic life to take an active part in helping the city keep its waterways clean, said Jennifer Carey, water quality service manager for the city of Lexington.

“It’s the only program of its kind in the state,” Carey said.

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Testing water left to right: Jason Martin, Brian Lee, Jerry Weisenfluh, Abby Monhollen tested creek water as representatives with the city of Lexington and volunteers worked Tuesday morning in the South Elkhorn Creek watershed on Bowman Mill Road. The city is seeking volunteers to help with testing water for West Hickman Creek and is holding a training session next Tuesday, August 21, at 9 a.m. at the Town Branch Water Treatment plant. Charles Bertram cbertram@herald-leader.com

The city partnered with Kentucky River Watershed Watch, which rounded up volunteer water testers for both Cane Run and South Elkhorn Creek watersheds. The volunteer testers are currently finishing their work on South Elkhorn Creek.

Ken Cooke, of Kentucky River Watershed Watch, helps identify and supply volunteers for the projects. They need more than 20 volunteers who are available on many Tuesday mornings to help with the testing. 

Cooke said they typically divide into teams and not everyone has to be there every Tuesday. 

Unlike other volunteer watershed monitoring efforts the Kentucky River Watershed Watch does, this information is reported directly to the city and is part of its official watershed testing efforts. Every volunteer is trained how to use the equipment. 

“The sampling results are shared with the volunteers, so they get to see the data for the entire watershed, not just their sites. For ‘creek geeks’ this is some pretty interesting stuff,” Cooke said.

A training will be held at 9 a.m. Tuesday, August 21, at the Town Branch Wastewater Treatment Plant at 301 Lisle Industrial Ave. Volunteers should email Carey at jcarey@lexingtonky.gov if they want to attend the workshop. There will be additional trainings in the spring and fall.

Carey said volunteers must be 18 or over, but kids may accompany adults, Carey said.

“This provides an opportunity for the public to be directly involved in the city’s water quality efforts,” she said.

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