Characterization of Water Quality
Government Highline Canal at Camp 7
Diversion and Highline Lake, Mesa County,
Colorado, July 2000 through September 2003
By Roderick F. Ortiz
Available from the U.S. Geological Survey, Branch of Information
Services, Box 25286, Denver Federal Center, Denver, CO 80225, USGS
Scientific Investigations Report 2004-5281, 30 p., 12 figs.
This document also is available in pdf format:
SIR2004-5281 (6 MB)
The citation for this report, in USGS format, is as follows:
Ortiz, R.F., 2005, Characterization of Water Quality in Government Highline
Canal at Camp 7 Diversion and Highline Lake, Mesa County, Colorado, July
2000 through September 2003: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations
Report 2004-5281, 30 p.
The U.S. Geological Survey, in cooperation with the
Colorado Division of Parks and Recreation, collected and analyzed
water-quality data for the Government Highline Canal and Highline Lake
from July 2000 through September 2003. Implementation
of modernization strategies for the canal, which supplies
most of the water to the lake, would decrease the amount of water spilled
to Highline Lake from August through October. A reduction in spill water
into Highline Lake could adversely affect the recreational uses of the
lake. To address this concern and to characterize the water quality in
the Government Highline Canal and Highline Lake, the U.S. Geological Survey
conducted a study to evaluate limnological conditions prior to implementation
of the modernization strategies.
This report characterizes the water quality of inflow from
the Government Canal and in Highline Lake prior to implementation
of modernization strategies in the Government Canal. Flow entering the
lake from the Government Canal was characterized using field properties
and available chemical, sediment, and bacteria
concentrations. Data collected at Highline Lake were used to characterize
the seasonal stratification patterns, water-quality chemistry, bacteria
populations, and phytoplankton community structure in the lake. Data used
for this report were collected at one inflow site to the lake and four
sites in Highline Lake.
Highline Lake is a mesotrophic/eutrophic lake that has dimictic
thermal stratification patterns. Samples collected in the photic zone
indicated that there was little physical, chemical, or biological variability
at this depth at any of the sampled sites in Highline Lake. Strong thermal
and dissolved-oxygen stratification
patterns were observed during summer. Dissolved-oxygen concentrations
of less than 1 milligram per liter were observed during the summer. Ammonia
likely was released from the bottom
sediments of Highline Lake. The limiting nutrient in
Highline Lake could be nitrogen or phosphorus.
In general, the seasonal succession of phytoplankton was
similar to that of other lakes in the temperate zone. Several types of
algae associated with taste and odor issues were identified in samples,
but critical concentrations were not exceeded for any listed algal group
with the exception of the diatom genus
Cyclotella in one sample.
Bacteria concentrations were determined at the public swim
beach at Highline Lake. E. coli samples were collected periodically
by the USGS and weekly by the Colorado Division of Parks and Recreation.
During the study period, no reported E. coli concentration exceeded
the standard for natural swimming areas.
Inflow water quality was characterized by samples collected
at the Camp 7 check structure on the Government Canal. Inflow water temperatures
reflected the seasonal patterns of the source water in the Colorado River.
The water was well oxygenated. Nitrogen and phosphorus concentrations
were low, and concentrations did not differ substantially from year to
year or seasonally within a year. All samples had reportable numbers of
fecal streptococcus. The maximum reported concentration of E. coli
was reported at 77 colonies per 100 milliliters of sample. Suspended-sediment
concentrations were relatively low.
Purpose and Scope
Description of the Study Area
Methods of Investigation
Sample Collection and Processing
Data Analysis Methods
Government Canal at Camp 7
Spatial distribution using depth-profile measurements
Annual stratification patterns
Selected physical and chemical properties
Dissolved organic carbon