The Kentucky River


The Kentucky River, a 256 mile-long tributary of the Ohio River, is the central artery for the state of Kentucky. The headwaters are the North Fork, Middle Fork and South Fork in the mountains of Eastern Kentucky that come together in Beattyville. The river and its tributaries flow on a path stretching through the coal-mining regions of the Cumberland Mountains through dramatic palisades and iconic Kentucky Bluegrass horse farms before joining the Ohio River on its course to the sea. The Kentucky River Watershed encompasses about 7,000 sq. mi. with 42 counties in its basin. The river supplies drinking water to nearly one million residents of Kentucky.   


The  Kentucky River Authority is charged with developing comprehensive plans for the management of the Kentucky River Basin, including long range water supply, drought response and ground water protection plans.  The Authority is to adopt regulations to improve and coordinate water resource activities within the basin among state agencies and develop recreational areas within the basin.

The Authority is responsible for maintaining the 14 lock and dam structures on the Kentucky River. These structures were constructed by the United States Army Corps of Engineers for navigation purposes but are now only used for recreational boating and water supply.