Great Salt Lake Basins National Water Quality Assessment

Science Center Objects

The Great Salt Lake Basins (GRSL) National Water Quality Assessment (NAWQA) was one of 51 study units across the country. Started in 1998, the long-term goals of this program were to describe the status and trends in the quality of a large, representative part of the Nation's surface- and ground-water resources, and to provide a sound, scientific understanding of the primary factors affecting the quality of these resources. The program has evaluated water quality at a wide range of spatial scales, from local to national, and has employed a multidisciplinary approach using physical, chemical, and biological measurements to provide multiple lines of evidence with which to evaluate water quality.

In the early years, interdisciplinary assessments were made and a baseline understanding of water-quality conditions was established for the GRSL NAWQA study unit. The Great Salt Lake Basin, now near the end of its second decade, is part of a regional analysis of ground water in the southwestern United States. Water-quality conditions in streams and ground water in the GRSL study unit are described in many NAWQA publications. 


Snow-capped Wasatch Mountains
Northern Wasatch Front

Status and trends of surface-water-quality are assessed within eight large geographical regions, referred to as "major river basins" covering the U.S. Status and trends of ground-water-quality are assessed within about one-third of the Nation's 62 principal aquifer systems. Results are reported by major river basin and principal aquifer system, as well as compared across the regional systems for a national perspective. The reports highlight regional differences in land use, geology, and climate that lead to regional differences in water quality. Ground water sampled from GRSL is part of the Basin and Range, Rio Grande, Coastal Basins, and Central Valley Aquifer Systems regional assessment. An example of this regional analysis is a report on Dissolved Solids in Basin-Fill Aquifers and Streams in the Southwestern United States.