Utah Water Science Center

Colorado River Basin Studies

The Colorado River Basin covers about 246,000 square miles, including parts of the seven "basin States" of Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming and also flows into Mexico. The river supplies water to more than 35 million people in the United States and 3 million in Mexico, irrigates more than 4.5 million acres of farmland, and generates about 12 billion kilowatt hours of hydroelectric power annually. Water from the river also provides for recreation and an array of environmental benefits, supporting a wide diversity of fish and wildlife and their habitats, and preserving flow and water-dependent ecological systems. Increasing population, decreasing stream flows, and the uncertain effects of a changing climate call for a better understanding of water-use and water-availability in the Colorado River Basin.

Real-Time Stream Flows

Filter Total Items: 6
Date published: May 14, 2019
Status: Active

Upper Colorado River Streamflow and Reservoir Contents

These reports summarize monthly data for selected rivers and reservoirs in the the Upper Colorado River Basin.

Date published: July 29, 2018
Status: Active

Lake Powell Coring

In response to the August 5, 2015, Gold King Mine Spill from the Bonita Peak Mining District that resulted in the release of three-million gallons of mine-impacted waters, the Utah Water Science Center, in partnership with the Utah Division of Water Quality, National Park Service, and U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, cored the San Juan and Colorado River deltas in multiple locations in Lake Powell...

Contacts: Scott A Hynek
Date published: July 28, 2018
Status: Active

Colorado Plateau Regional Groundwater Availability

Study goals

This project seeks to quantify the status of groundwater as an integrated resource with surface water in the arid and semiarid region of the Colorado Plateau principal aquifer system. Surface-water resources that originate in this region are over allocated and serve 35 million people, 4.5 million acres of farmland, and are used to generate 12 billion...

Date published: July 25, 2018
Status: Active


Studies of Sources and Transport of Dissolved Solids (Salt) in the Colorado River Basin using the Spatially Referenced Regressions on Watershed Attributes (SPARROW) Model

The Upper Colorado River Basin (UCRB) encompasses about 112,000 mi2 and discharges more than 6 million tons of dissolved solids (salt) annually to the lower Colorado River Basin. It has been estimated...

Date published: July 15, 2018
Status: Active


The Colorado River has been identified as the most overallocated river in the world. Considering predicted future imbalances between water supply and demand and the growing recognition that base flow (a proxy for groundwater discharge to streams) is critical for sustaining flow in streams and rivers, there is a need to develop methods to better quantify present-day base flow across large...

Date published: June 20, 2018
Status: Active

Managed Aquifer Recharge

Sand Hollow Reservoir in Washington County, Utah, was completed in March 2002 and is operated for both surface-water storage and managed aquifer recharge via infiltration from surface basin spreading to the underlying Navajo Sandstone. From 2002 through 2014, about 216,000 acre-feet were diverted from the Virgin River to Sand Hollow Reservoir, and about 127,000 acre-feet of water seeped...