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Water Quality Assessment of the Upper Colorado River Basin, Colorado and Utah


Water Quality Assessment of the Upper Colorado River Basin, Colorado and Utah

Study Area: Upper Colorado River Basin
Period of Project: 1994-ongoing; currently in low-intensity phase
Project Number: CO284
Project Chief: Norm Spahr


The Upper Colorado River Basin in Colorado and Utah has a drainage are of about 17,800 miČ . All but 100 miČ of this area is in Colorado. The Upper Colorado River Basin (UCOL) study unit is made up of two nearly equal physiographic provinces; the southern Rocky Mountains and the Colorado Plateau, and the drainage area encompasses the Colorado River, the major supplier of water to the southwestern United States, and its tributaries in Colorado. As part of the National Water Quality Assessment Program (NAWQA), the UCOL is studying the effects of increasing urban development, hydrologic modifications, metal mining, non-point and point source agricultural contaminants, and salinity from natural, agricultural, and municipal sources on the UCOL water resources.



  1. To determine present water-quality conditions including, physical, chemical, and biological components.
  2. To characterize trends in water quality.
  3. To relate factors such as mining, geology, agriculture, climate, and urbanization to water-quality conditions.

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