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 HOW DO WE IMPACT 

 KARST LANDSCAPES & GROUNDWATER 

In karst areas, avoidable human impacts to groundwater often occur because many people do not know they are living on a unique landscape or do not understand how their actions on the surface affect what's below ground! Here is a list of some common activities in Bowling Green that can damage the karst resources in our area. Help be the Solution to Stormwater Pollution!

  • Urban development, especially surfaces that block water from soaking into the ground, such as pavement and buildings, can cause stormwater flooding on the surface and prevent water from resupplying karst aquifers. Since stormwater from rainfall can quickly carry greases, chemicals, fertilizers, oils and other waste products to low-lying areas, stormwater is one of the primary causes of pollution in many urban karst areas, including Bowling Green. Try to prevent stormwater-related damage to our karst landscape by making sure storm drains, curb inlets, and injection wells are free of debris and trash. Remember, make sure you fix leaky vehicles because the leaks don’t just end up on your driveway.

  • Sinkholes and caves are often direct connections to groundwater, but they are commonly used as illegal garbage dumps. When sinkholes and caves are used as dumps, groundwater can easily become polluted as rainwater drains through the sinkhole or cave, pick up pollutants in the garbage, and then makes its way directly to groundwater supplies without any natural filtering. 

  • If farmers and homeowners don’t follow package instructions when applying pesticides and fertilizers, these concentrated chemicals can be easily washed into surface waters after a storm event or even soak through the soil and rock to the groundwater flowing below. Make sure you always follow application instructions and use pesticides and fertilizers only when necessary. Never apply these chemicals before a precipitation event such as rain or snow. 

  • Clogging natural cave entrances and sinkholes can prevent water from leaving the land surface, resulting in surface flooding. Never fill in a cave or sinkhole entrance, and try to keep entrances free of debris! Keeping stormwater drains and curb inlets clear of debris is also important for preventing stormwater flooding and reducing water pollution.

  • Using more water than can be recharged by rainfall can eventually reduce the amount of water reaching the Barren River and being stored underground. This will decrease the amount of water available for our use and could cause springs to reduce their flow. Sinkholes can also develop as water-filled spaces in the aquifer are drained, leaving no support for the weight of the land surface. Conserve water whenever and wherever you can!

  • In a karst area, we have to be very careful of what we throw away and how we dispose of wastes. Be sure to pick up pet waste because any waste on the surface can be washed into our surface or groundwater supplies. Dispose of leftover paint by mixing it with kitty litter until solidified, then throw it away. Call hazardous waste disposal before tossing any hazardous chemicals from your house and garage! Never dispose of wipes of any kind the toilet and minimize your use of the garbage disposal. Wipes in the toilet and food waste in the disposal can clog water lines and backup into your home or the karst groundwater. Don’t throw away batteries or appliances in your house waste. Lastly, there are no butts about it... cigarettes on the ground, end up in our ground water. Never dispose of your cigarettes butts on the ground. Store hazardous waste and then bring them to the City’s Household Hazardous Waste Day.

  • Septic tanks are common throughout Kentucky, including Bowling Green, but they can cause groundwater quality to decline if they are not properly constructed and maintained. A poorly maintained or constructed septic tank can allow pollutants in the tank to seep into the ground without undergoing any of the filtration process the tank system is built to provide. Do you know if your home has a septic tank and where it is on your property? How often do you have your septic tank inspected? A septic tank that never needs cleaning, is most likely broken! Be sure to have your tank inspected every 2 to 3 years. Is your house able to be hooked to a City sanitary sewer line? Sanitary sewer lines take wastewater to treatment plants so you don’t have to use the septic system.

  • During construction projects, make sure to prevent sediment erosion during rain and snow events. In your landscaping, add ground cover, mulch, or other material to keep bare soil covered at all times.