MONITORING OF MULTIPLE VARIABLES AFFECTING WATER QUALITY IN KARST SPRINGS THROUGHOUT THE NORTHERN KENTUCKY AND LEXINGTON AREAS
Abundant karst features in and around Kentucky can create pathways to contaminate groundwater, leading to unsuitable drinking water for consumption. This research aims to collect data that will aid in the monitoring of spring water quality throughout the Lexington and Northern Kentucky areas. This process began by making a list of springs within a 60 mile radius from Northern Kentucky University, using previously published ArcGis spring databases. Field visits to these sites in early May revealed thirteen springs with measurable flow. Multiple water quality parameters were measured onsite once a month from May to August at these sites using a YSI ProDSS. Alkalinity was measured using an acid titration method as soon as the samples were collected. Two sets of samples were collected at each site. One set of samples were acidified with dilute nitric acid for analyzing metal concentrations (Al, As, Zn, Cd, Pb, Cu, Na, Ca, K, and Mg) using the ICP-AES (inductively coupled plasma atomic emission spectrometer). Anion concentrations (Cl-, SO4-2) were measured on unacidified samples, using a HACH spectrophotometer in the lab. Collected data were compared with weather data from the closest weather stations, downloaded from the NOAA online climate database. Notable drops in nitrates and conductivity were recorded at the salt spring in Big Bone Lick State Park following rain events. In contrast, springs in and around Lexington show an increase of nitrates, and a decrease in dissolved oxygen and turbidity with time. The northern Kentucky locations show a rise in nitrate, pH, and chlorophyll and a decrease in conductivity, salinity, dissolved solids, phycocyanin, and calcium, possibly attributed to the increase of rain during the month of June.