This circular is available as a pdf.
This report contains the major findings of a 1998–2001 assessment of water quality in the Great Salt Lake Basins. It is one of a series of reports by the National Water-Quality Assessment (NAWQA) Program that present major findings in 51 major river basins and aquifer systems across the Nation.
In these reports, water quality is discussed in terms of local, State, and regional issues. Conditions in a particular basin or aquifer system are compared to conditions found elsewhere and to selected national benchmarks, such as those for drinking-water quality and the protection of aquatic organisms.
This report is intended for individuals working with water-resource issues in Federal, State, or local agencies, universities, public interest groups, or in the private sector. The information will be useful in addressing a number of current issues, such as the effects of agricultural and urban land use on water quality, human health, drinking water, source-water protection, hypoxia and excessive growth of algae and plants, pesticide registration, and monitoring and sampling strategies. This report is also for individuals who wish to know more about the quality of streams and ground water in areas near where they live, and how that water quality compares to water quality in other areas across the Nation.
The water-quality conditions in the Great Salt Lake Basins summarized in this report are discussed in detail in other reports that can be accessed at http://ut.water.usgs.gov. Detailed technical information, data and analyses, collection and analytical methodology, models, graphs, and maps that support the findings presented in this report in addition to reports in this series from other basins can be accessed at the national NAWQA Web site http://water.usgs.gov/nawqa.
National Water-Quality Assessment Program
What kind of water-quality information does the NAWQA Program provide?
Introduction to this Report
Summary of Major Findings
Stream and River Highlights
Introduction to the Great Salt Lake Basins
Water development affects quantity and quality of water resources
Streamflow regulation, such as that in the Bear River Basin, alters daily and seasonal flows
Reductions in water quantity also affect water quality in streams
Fish communities in urban streams respond to changes in water quantity
Pumping likely affects the distribution of dissolved solids in the basin-fill aquifer in Salt Lake Valley
Land use influences water quality and aquatic community health
Undeveloped basins show minimal degradation of water quality and biological communities
Phosphorus and nitrogen levels are elevated in streams draining agricultural and urban areas
Nitrate levels generally are low in the basin-fill aquifers
Urban storm runoff affects stream chemistry and temperature
Elevated levels of pesticides are most common in urban streams
VOCs are common in urban streams
Pesticides and VOCs are detected in basin-fill aquifers underlying all types of land use
VOCs and pesticides commonly are detected in shallow ground water and in the basin-fill aquifer used for public supply in Salt Lake Valley
Surface-water contaminants and aquatic communities change as watersheds become urbanized
PAH levels are elevated in streambed sediment in urban basins and in Farmington Bay
Lead concentrations have decreased in Farmington Bay sediments since the 1980s
DDT, PCBs, and other organochlorine compounds occur more commonly in fish than in sediment in area streams
Increased urban land use has altered invertebrate and algal communities
Elevated concentrations of trace elements in sediment and water are related to natural sources and past mining activities
Minerals in rocks are sources of arsenic and radon in ground water
Past mining activities contribute to elevated levels of trace elements in sediment and water
Increases in levels of trace elements in sediment since the mid-19th century are related to smelter emissions
Study Unit Design
Appendix—Water Quality Data from the Great Salt Lake Basins in a National Context
The companion Web site for NAWQA summary reports:
USGS State Representative
U.S. Geological Survey
Water Resources Discipline
2329 Orton Circle
Salt Lake City, Utah 84119
Chief, NAWQA Program
U.S. Geological Survey
Water Resources Discipline
12201 Sunrise Valley Drive, M.S. 413
Reston, VA 20192
For sale by
U.S. Geological Survey,
Box 25286, Denver Federal Center
Denver, CO 80225
For more information about the USGS and its products:
World Wide Web: http://www.usgs.gov/
The full report is available in pdf format and is 16.3 MB in size.
If you have Adobe® Acrobat® or Adobe® Acrobat® Reader® installed on your computer, you may view and print the PDF version of this report. Acrobat Reader, is a free download it from Adobe Systems, Inc. Users with disabilities can view information concerning accessibility at access.adobe.com.
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Last modified: Friday, January 11 2013, 12:41:01 PM