Water was an initial Berea College Forest management goal.
Water from springs on the Forest began flowing the 5 miles to Berea by gravity in 1905, and the first reservoir was built in 1920. Four reservoirs and a treatment plant now produce some 798 million gallons of water annually (1996 total) for Berea and several water districts.
The largest of the lakes is Owsley Fork at 151 surface acres. Water and wood production have coexisted for 95 years within the main block of the Forest. The 1,300 acres in the Owsley Fork watershed were purchased after 1970.