All waterbodies in Kentucky have assigned designated uses for the management and goal of attaining a minimum level of water quality.
Designated uses are promulgated in 401 KAR 10:026 and the implementing criteria are in 401 KAR 10:031. The following are examples of applicable designated uses:
- Warm water aquatic habitat (WAH)
- Cold water aquatic habitat (CAH)
- Primary contact recreation (PCR)
- Secondary contact recreation (SCR)
- Domestic water supply (DWS)
- Outstanding state resource water (OSRW)
- Fish consumption (while not a designated use, it is recognized as an implied use per 401 KAR 10:031 Section 2)
Definitions for designated uses can be found in 401 KAR 10:001.
Note: Collectively, WAH and CAH are referred to as the aquatic life designated use.
With the exception of CAH and OSRW, the remaining designated uses apply by default to all Kentucky waterbodies, unless a use attainability analysis has been approved to remove a designated use as documented in 401 KAR 10:026. Additionally, criteria for the protection of the domestic water supply use are implemented at the intake location.
OSRW is a state-defined designated use that applies extra protections to certain waters including Kentucky Wild Rivers, Federal Wild and Scenic Rivers, waterbodies that support federally listed threatened or endangered aquatic species and waters of exceptional aesthetic or ecological value, among others. The special-use waters page has additional information on waters that receive extra protections.
Waterbodies are assessed for designated use attainment. This attainment information can be found in the most recent Integrated Report.