Four RIVERs WATERSHED WATCH
Explore. Connect. Protect.
Our Mission: To coordinate and integrate programs, tools, and resources available in order to protect and restore the ecological structure and function of watersheds in the Four Rivers Region of Kentucky.
Our goals are to educate people about the value of clean water and importance of our waterways, to connect people with their environment, to promote cooperation among community members, educators, and agencies to keep our waterways clean, and to identify where specific sites are in need of further investigation.
River Basins in Kentucky
Kentucky is divided into 7 major river basins, including the Four Rivers Basin.
Each river basin includes all of the land drained by many streams, creeks and springs that flow downhill into one another, eventually forming rivers.
Four Rivers Watershed Watch organizes Watershed Watch in the Four Rivers Basin (in light purple on map to the far left).
Who We Are
Sampling Volunteers - FRWW is supported by ~45 active volunteers who give their time to improve our waterways through skills development, water quality monitoring, community outreach and education and water improvement efforts.
Steering Committee - A dedicated group of FRWW leaders meets regularly to coordinate sampling events and related activities, review funding, discuss focused watershed area projects, and ensure that the organization runs smoothly.
Watershed Watch in Kentucky - This statewide organization coordinates volunteer water monitoring across Kentucky. Four River Watershed Watch is one of seven basin groups that monitor streams, rivers, and lakes across KY.
Partners - FRWW could not do its work without the critical support from our major partners.
Jackson Purchase Foundation is the parent 501(c)3 non-profit organization under which FRWW operates.
Kentucky Division of Water provides technical and staff support.
Hancock Biological Station - (HBS) provides funding for laboratory analysis of water samples, staff support, and educational event support.
Murray State University's Watershed Studies Institute assists with data management and educational events.
City of Murray provides assistance with water quality sampling and focus studies.
Kentucky Geological Survey provides assistance with scientific review and database management.
Kentucky Water Resources Research Institute provides technical support, training, and other assistance.
Virginia Environmental Endowment provides funding support.
What We Do
Train Samplers - We hold at least one free training workshop each spring to train new volunteers and recertify existing volunteers.
Loan Sampling Equipment - We loan test kits to trained volunteers so they can test water quality (pH, dissolved oxygen, conductivity, and temperature). If desired, samplers also receive supplies for assessing stream biology and habitat.
Collect Water Quality Data - Our volunteers choose a stream to monitor, or we help them find a site. Samplers use their test kits and collect bacteria samples three times each year in May, July, and September. Stream biology and habitat are studied each May and/or June.
Analyze Sampling Results - At the conclusion of each sampling year, we summarize and assess the findings and share it with our volunteer samplers through a report and presentation during the annual conference.
Provide Environmental Education - Our board members and others in the organization attend conferences, workshops, and youth events to teach about water quality and what we are doing to protect and improve it.
Promote Water Quality Improvement - We provide guidance and suggestions for putting water quality findings to use through local water improvement initiatives. Some of our sampling areas have progressed from backyard sampling to federally approved watershed improvement plans with associated funding.
Host Annual Conferences and Other Events - We coordinate an annual conference (usually in November) to present sampling results, provide organization updates, and hear from relevant speakers.
Where We Work
The Four Rivers Basin is located in western KY and northwestern TN. This region is identified by the four major rivers that flow through or adjacent to this region: the Cumberland, Tennessee, Ohio, and Mississippi Rivers. This region drains ~4,700 square miles across 17 Kentucky counties (Ballard, Caldwell, Calloway, Carlisle, Christian, Crittenden, Fulton, Graves, Hickman, Livingston, Logan, Lyon, Marshall, McCracken, Simpson, Trigg, and Todd) and four Tennessee counties (Henry, Montgomery, Stewart, and Robertson) with more than 10,000 stream miles.
The general topography varies from the Mississippi floodplain to the gently rolling terrain of the Pennyrile plateau. Since much of the area is alluvial floodplain with rich soils ideal for farming, it is no surprise that agriculture is a large part of the local economy.
Special resources of the Four Rivers region afford many opportunities for outdoor activities and provide refuge for wildlife and natural functions. The Clarks River National Wildlife Refuge is the first national wildlife refuge established wholly within the state of Kentucky. The Land Between the Lakes (LBL, between Lake Barkley and Kentucky Lake) is the largest inland peninsula in the United States and the second largest contiguous block of forested public land east of the Mississippi. The LBL area serves as a magnet for tourists from all over the world that come to this unique and vast area for vacationing. The natural resources not only serve important ecological functions, but the river industries, tourism, and recreation that these resources support are a major part of the region’s economy and a major source of jobs.