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Water Sources

Berea Municipal Utilities (BMU) utilizes water from four reservoirs within the Berea College Forest’s watersheds. Berea is unique and fortunate in that this is untouched water, meaning the reservoirs get refilled by rain and natural springs and do not contain used water that is fed back into the water system. Also, because these watersheds are privately owned, the water can be more carefully managed to ensure purity. Berea is one of only a few systems in the Bluegrass region that do not rely on the Kentucky river for its water supply. 

The four reservoirs are Owsley Fork Reservoir, Cowbell Reservoir, Kale Lake, and B-Lake. Owsley Fork Lake is 151 acres and contains 653 million gallons. As Berea’s primary source for water, Owsley Fork Lake also provides nature beauty and recreation opportunities for the community such as picnicking on the banks, fishing or boating. Cowbell Lake is 17 acres and holds 151 million gallons. B-Lake is 19 acres and hold 81 million gallons. Kale Lake, which is only for emergency use, is 5 acres and holds only 22 million gallons.

On-site pump stations draw water from both Owsley Fork and Cowbell lakes. The Owsley Fork pump station has two 150-horsepower pumps and one 75-horsepower pump, capable of pumping 4 million gallons of water per day. The Cowbell pump station has two 75-horsepower pumps capable of pumping 2.5 million gallons of water daily. B-Lake does not require a pump station as it can be gravity fed directly into the plant for treatment. 

Owsley Fork Lake and B-Lake have four aerators in their main channels that keep the water circulated. This technique prevents turnover in the spring and fall, ensuring the most consistent treatment year-round. 


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