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Kentucky River Authority

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Kentucky River Authority

The Kentucky River Authority is an agency of the Commonwealth of Kentucky. Its major purpose is to operate and maintain a set of locks and dams (specifically Locks 5 through 14) along the course of the Kentucky River which was originally built by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and are now in the process of being deeded over to the Authority. The KRA was established in 1986.

This system makes the Kentucky River navigable throughout its entire 259 mile (437 km) length from its mouth into the Ohio River all the way up to its headwaters at the confluence of the North and South Forks. However, it is not available for efficient use by many of the modern barge tows due to the relatively small size of the locks and the fact that the channel is maintained to only a six-foot draft rather than the nine-foot draft that is more typical and the standard used on most major river systems in the U.S. The Authority also works to prevent water pollution as much as is practicable along the Kentucky River Basin, in large measure because the stream is the source of the drinking water for approximately one-sixth of all Kentucky residents. The Authority's responsibility for water quality was added to its mission in 1988 after a serious and prolonged drought brought issues of water quality and availability to the fore. In fact, the system is now operated more for the purpose of maintaining a secure supply of drinkable water for Lexington and other communities than it is to maximize navigation.

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