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Scientific Investigations Report 2011-5081

Analysis of Watersheds Monitored by the U.S. Geological Survey Streamflow-gaging Station Network in the Upper Colorado River Basin

By Terry A. Kenney, Susan G. Buto, and David D. Susong

Thumbnail of and link to report PDF (9.5 MB) Abstract

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) has operated streamflow-gaging stations in 1,053 watersheds in the Upper Colorado River Basin (UCRB) since 1894. Currently, 223 of these streamgages are active. This report presents selected watershed characteristics for 10,338 watersheds in the UCRB. These watersheds are compared to the watersheds upstream of USGS streamgages to assess how well the USGS streamgage network represents the physical characteristics of the watersheds in the entire basin. To conduct this assessment, 17 watershed characteristics, including physiographic parameters, land cover types, lithology, and parameters that describe anthropogenic influence, were computed for each of the gaging station drainage basins. The set of 10,338 watersheds in the UCRB was constructed from a previously developed stream-reach network, and the same 17 basin characteristics were computed for each watershed to facilitate comparisons.

The USGS streamgage watersheds and the UCRB watersheds were split into those that are currently unaffected by upstream reservoir regulation and those currently affected by upstream reservoir regulation. In general, for unregulated watersheds, the streamgage network represents the range of most basin characteristics in the watersheds of the UCRB. However, the active streamgage network for unregulated watersheds is generally lacking in representation of most basin characteristics compared with watersheds in the UCRB. At regulated locations, the streamgage network including the active network, generally represents the range of most basin characteristics well.

  • Report PDF (9.5 MB)
  • Database
    This report includes a queryable Microsoft Access database, The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Upper Colorado River Basin Streamgage and Watershed Analysis Tool (UCRB SWAT).
  • Download the Guide
    to using Upper Colorado River Basin SWAT Readme_UCRB_SWAT.docx, 203 KB
  • Download the UCRB_SWAT.accdb
    as a compressed .zip file. A copy of the guide linked above is also provided in the .zip package, 2.0 MB

For additional information contact:
Director, Utah Water Science Center
U.S. Geological Survey
2329 Orton Circle
Salt Lake City, Utah 84119

Part or all of this report is presented in Portable Document Format (PDF); the latest version of Adobe Reader or similar software is required to view it. Download the latest version of Adobe Reader, free of charge.

Suggested citation:

Kenney, T.A., Buto, S.G., and Susong, D.D., 2011, Analysis of watersheds monitored by the U.S. Geological Survey streamflow-gaging station network in the Upper Colorado River Basin: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 20115081, 47 p.




U.S. Geological Survey Streamgages in the Upper Colorado River Basin

Approach and Methods

Watershed Characteristics


References Cited

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