Fecal coliform bacteria counts as high as 150 times the limit for human contact have been recorded in Blair Branch, a second-order stream near the community of Isom. Part of the problem is straight pipes that send sewage directly into the stream, but most of the problem is simply caused by a lack of space for effective septic systems. There are more than 100 homes along this 1.5-mile creek, and because of the closeness of the homes, narrowness of the hollow and the properties of the soil even homes with septic system contribute waste to the stream in the form of runoff from failing leach fields.
The Head of Three Rivers Project is proposing that wetlands along the stream be restored and used to treat the stream as it moves toward the mouth of the hollow. Hopefully, by the time the water reaches Rockhouse Creek, a major tributary of the North Fork of the Kentucky River, this system will have reduced the bacteria count to an acceptable level.
This project is in the very early stages. Regulatory approval and funding are still being sought to do a feasibility study of the system.