University of Kentucky College of Agriculture
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Water Quality

No matter where we turn, water is an important part of our lives. No other single substance is as important for our health, our economy, or our way of life. People can live for weeks without food but only five to 10 days without water. Experts say that people need 2 quarts of water a day to help digest food, cool bodies, lubricate joints, remove body wastes, and clean eyes.

Agriculture is one of the largest users of water because plants and animals require large amounts of water. A dairy cow requires 3 gallons of water to produce 1 gallon of milk, and an ear of corn requires 25 gallons of water to grow.

Kentucky has more than 89,000 miles of rivers and streams, and more than 5 percent of the land is in lakes and wetlands. It also has a supply of groundwater that, while not seen, is an important resource. Kentuckians rely on these supplies of water for drinking, farming, industry, and recreation. Increasingly, however, Kentucky's water resources are threatened by runoff pollution from farms, construction sites, and residential areas; illegal dumping; improper sewage disposal; oil and coal extraction; and poor management practices.

Each of us has a responsibility to protect the water supply. Consumers, farmers, and industries would suffer if the quality and quantity of the water supply deteriorate. This publication gives an overview of the basic issues in water quality. It describes the water cycle, sources of water, uses of water, and threats to the water supply. It provides the basis for individuals and groups to protect and conserve their own water source and that of their community and county.

- from "Understanding the Water System", UK Extension Publication IP-1
(revised 4.2001)

Protecting Kentucky's Groundwater, UK Extension Publication IP-13