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Welcome to the EVENT SCHEDULE & DIRECTORY for the 10th Annual Salt Lake County Watershed Symposium
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Congratulations to Carl Adams of DWQ. He was nominated by peers, and celebrated with peers, as the 2016 Watershed Steward of the Year!

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Tuesday, November 15 • 9:55am - 10:20am
Persistent Urban Impacts On Surface Water Quality in the Wasatch Front

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Persistent Urban Impacts On Surface Water Quality in the Wasatch Front
Growing population centers along mountain watersheds put added stress on sensitive hydrologic systems and create water quality impacts downstream. We examined the mountain-to-urban transition in watersheds on Utah’s Wasatch Front to identify mechanisms by which urbanization impacts water resources. Rivers in the Wasatch flow from the mountains directly into an urban landscape, where they are subject to channelization, stormwater runoff systems, and urban inputs to water quality from sources such as road salt and fertilizer. As part of an interdisciplinary effort within the iUTAH project, multiple synoptic surveys were performed and a variety of measurements were made, including basic water chemistry along with discharge, water isotopes, and nutrients.

Red Butte Creek, a stream in Salt Lake City, does not show significant urban impact to water quality until several kilometers after it enters the city where concentrations of solutes such as chloride and nitrate more than triple in a gaining reach. Groundwater springs discharging to this gaining section demonstrate urban-impacted water chemistry, suggesting that during baseflow a contaminated alluvial aquifer significantly controls stream chemistry. By combining hydrometric and hydrochemical observations we were able to estimate that these groundwater springs were 17-20% urban runoff. We were then able to predict the chemistry of urban runoff that feeds into the alluvial aquifer. Samples collected from storm culverts, roofs, and asphalt during storms had chemistry values within the range of those predicted by the mixing model. This evidence that urbanization affects the water quality of baseflow through impacted groundwater suggests that stormwater mitigation may not be sufficient for protecting urban watersheds, and quantifying these persistent groundwater mediated impacts is necessary to evaluate the success of restoration efforts. By comparing these results from Red Butte Creek with similar studies from other rivers in the Wasatch Front and other alluvial systems, we can quantify how characteristics such as discharge patterns and land-use determine alluvial recharge controls on surface water quality.

avatar for Karen Nichols

Karen Nichols

Water Resource Engineer, HDR, Inc.

avatar for Rachel Gabor

Rachel Gabor

Postdoctoral Research Fellow, University of Utah
Rachel Gabor is a postdoctoral research fellow with iUTAH at the University of Utah. She studies the hydrology and biogeochemistry of watersheds and is currently focused on understanding how urban systems impact water quality.

Tuesday November 15, 2016 9:55am - 10:20am
2_Utah Cultural Celebration Center: GALLERY 1355 W 3100 S, West Valley City UT 84119

Attendees (51)