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Lexington, Kentucky Water Quality Report


Sources Of Drinking Water in Lexington, Kentucky


Where does Lexington's drinking water come from? About 90% of the water withdrawn in Kentucky comes from surface water bodies, including streams, lakes and reservoirs. Although most Kentucky households have access to public drinking water, in some areas of the state, citizens still rely on private water supplies like wells, springs and cisterns. When it rains, water travels over the surface of the land or through the ground, dissolving naturally occurring minerals (possibly radioactive material) and picking up organic material from animals or humans. The water ends up in rivers, lakes, streams, ponds, reservoirs, springs, and wells, where it may become a source of supply for both drinking and bottled water. The following contaminants may be present in source water because of this process: 

Microbial Contaminants, such as viruses and bacteria from sewage, agricultural livestock operations or wildlife.  Inorganic Contaminants, such as salts and metals that occur naturally or may result from urban storm water runoff, industrial or domestic wastewater discharges, oil and gas production, mining or farming. 

Pesticides and Herbicides, which come from a variety of sources such as agriculture, urban storm water runoff and residential uses. 

Organic Chemical Contaminants (including synthetic and volatile organic chemicals), which are by-products of industrial processes and petroleum production, and may come from gas stations, urban storm water runoff and septic systems. 

Radioactive Contaminants, which occur naturally or result from oil and gas production and mining activities. Surface water from the Kentucky River (as it runs south of Lexington and through Owen County) and Jacobson Reservoir (located in Fayette County) provide the primary source of drinking water produced by our three water treatment plants. The Kentucky River Station, Richmond Road Station, and Kentucky River Station II at Hardin’s Landing are capable of reliably producing up to 85 million gallons of water per day (MGD). Our treatment processes are designed to protect human health by reducing contaminant concentrations to levels well below what might cause health concerns. Is Lexington's water safe to drink?

Source: City of Lexington, KY

Contaminants Found in Lexington's Water Supply

(Detected above health guidelines)

Chromium (hexavalent)

Chromium (hexavalent) is a carcinogen that commonly contaminates American drinking water. Chromium (hexavalent) in drinking water may be due to industrial pollution or natural occurrences in mineral deposits and groundwater. Read more about chromium (hexavalent).

Radiological Contaminants

This utility detected Radium, combined (-226 & -228), Radium-226, Radium-228 & Uranium.

Total Trihalomethanes (TTHMs)

Trihalomethanes are cancer-causing contaminants that form during water treatment with chlorine and other disinfectants. The total trihalomethanes group includes four chemicals: chloroform, bromodichloromethane, dibromochloromethane and bromoform. 


Fluoride occurs naturally in surface and groundwater and is also added to drinking water by many water systems. The fluoride that is added to water is not the naturally occurring kind, the main chemicals used to fluoridate drinking water are known as “silicofluorides” (i.e., hydrofluorosilicic acid and sodium fluorosilicate). Silicofluorides are not pharmaceutical-grade fluoride products; they are unprocessed industrial by-products of the phosphate fertilizer industry (Gross!). Since these silicofluorides undergo no purification procedures, they can contain elevated levels of arsenic — more so than any other water treatment chemical. In addition, recent research suggests that the addition of silicofluorides to water is a risk factor for elevated lead exposure, particularly among residents who live in homes with old pipes.

Potential Health Effects of Consuming These Contaminants

Health risks of Chromium (hexavalent) in excess of the health guidelines

Cancer: The health guideline of 0.02 ppb for chromium (hexavalent) was defined by the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment as a public health goal, the level of a drinking water contaminant that does not pose a significant health risk. This health guideline protects against cancer.

Health risks of Radiological contaminants in excess of the health guidelines

Cancer: Radiological contaminants leach into water from certain minerals and from mining. Drinking water contamination with radioactive substances increases the risk of cancer and may harm fetal development.

Health risks of Total trihalomethanes (TTHMs) in excess of the health guidelines 

Cancer: The health guideline of 0.8 ppb for trihalomethanes was defined by the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment as a draft public health goal, the level of drinking water contaminant that does not pose a significant health risk. This health guideline protects against cancer.

Health risks of fluoride in excess of health guideline  

No standards exist for fluoride in water but fluoride is considered by many to be a neurotoxin.

Contaminant Levels Compared to Other Regions

Chromium (hexavalent)

 - Health Guideline: 0.02 ppb

 - National: 0.782 ppb

 - State: 0.120 ppb

 - Lexington, KY: 0.0763 ppb

Radiological Contaminants

 - No drinking water standard exists for these contaminants (Yikes).

Total trihalomethanes (TTHMs)

 - Health Guideline: 0.8 ppb

 - State: 41.5 ppb

 - National: 23.4 ppb

 - Lexington, KY: 47.0 ppb


- Legal Limit: 4 ppb

 - State: 0.726 ppb

 - National: 0.440 ppb

 -  Lexington, KY: 0.997 ppb

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April Jones

A hiker, blogger, and water quality expert...

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