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Analysis of stream quality in the Yampa River Basin, Colorado and Wyoming

January 1, 1980

Historic data show no significant water-temperature changes since 1951 for the Little Snake or Yampa Rivers, the two major streams of the Yampa River basin in Colorado and Wyoming. Regional analyses indicate that harmonic-mean temperature is negatively correlated with altitude. No change in specific conductance since 1951 was noted for the Little Snake River; however, specific conductance in the Yampa River has increaed 14 % since that time and is attributed to increased agricultural and municipal use of water. Site-specific relationships between major inorganic constituents and specific conductance for the Little Snake and Yampa Rivers were similar to regional relationships developed from both historic and recent (1975) data. These relationships provide a means for estimating concentrations of major inorganic constituents from specific conductance, which is easily measured. Trace-element and nutrient data collected from August 1975 through September 1976 at 92 sites in the Yampa River basin indicate that water-quality degradation occurred upstream from 3 sites. The degradation resulted from underground drainage from pyritic materials that probably are associated with coal at one site, discharge from powerplant cooling-tower blowdown water at a second site, and runoff from a small watershed containing a gas field at the third site. Ambient concentrations of dissolved and total iron and manganese frequently exceeded proposed Colorado water-quality standards. The concentrations of many dissolved and total trace elements and nutrients were greatest during March 1976. These were associated with larger suspended-sediment concentrations and smaller pH values than at other times of the year. (USGS)

Publication Year 1980
Title Analysis of stream quality in the Yampa River Basin, Colorado and Wyoming
DOI 10.3133/wri808
Authors Dennis A. Wentz, Timothy Doak Steele
Publication Type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Series Title Water-Resources Investigations Report
Series Number 80-8
Index ID wri808
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse