40 years of equine operations and nearly a million annual visitors impaired water quality at the Kentucky Horse Park
The Kentucky Horse Park (KHP) is a 1,200-acre working horse farm, educational theme park, and horse show venue located along Cane Run Creek. Serving nearly one million visitors each year, the constant traffic of horses, people, and vehicles had impaired the water and natural areas around the park. Much of the water impairment occurs from concentrated stormwater runoff flowing from the barns, the muck shed, and horse washing stations. The runoff discharges fecal and nutrient loads into drains, which eventually flow to Cane Run creek.
The University of Kentucky (UK) and KHP partnered for years to improve water quality and provide education and outreach across the park. The design-build team of EcoGro, Ridgewater, and Stantec took the improvements even further by designing and constructing a new 150,000-gallon bioretention basin in just four months. The basin and wetlands system mimics natural hydrology—settling solids, allowing for UV treatment from natural sunlight, and filtering pollutants through plant uptake and sandy soil media.
Our team partnered with UK and KHP to conduct post-construction monitoring, water quality sampling, and treatment analysis. Water quality sampling indicated that the basin achieved significant nutrient reduction and a 97–99% reduction in fecal coliforms—keeping the environment, community, and horses healthier.
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