Outstanding National Resource Waters

rockcastleriver2Outstanding National Resource Waters (ONRWs) are waters that receive special protection against degradation under Kentucky’s water quality standards and the federal Clean Water Act. Waters eligible for ONRW designation include waters that are part of a national or state park, wildlife refuge or wilderness areas, special trout waters, waters with exceptional recreational or ecological significance, and high quality waters that have not been significantly modified by human activities.

In 2009, we worked with the US Forest Service and the Kentucky Division of Water to nominate four of the five new ONRW designated water bodies residing in the Daniel Boone National Forest. State law requires that the water quality in these water bodies be maintained and protected. This means that no new pollution is allowed into these waterways. The EPA’s final approval will increase Kentucky’s ONRW designated waters from 3 to 8 and will protect over 60 miles of streams and 2,000 acres of wetlands.

Outstanding National Resource Waters

  • Reelfoot Lake, Fulton County
  • Marsh Creek – McCreary County
  • Rock Creek – McCreary County
  • Rockcastle River – Border of Pulaski and Laurel Counties
  • War Fork – Jackson County
  • Red River Upstream – Menifee/Wolfe Counties
  • Underground River System Within Mammoth Cave National Park Boundary – Edmonson/Hart/Barren Counties
  • South Fork of Cumberland River – McCreary County

*Photo Location: Rockcastle River, KY Credit: Brandon Jett