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Estimation of dissolved-solids concentrations using continuous water-quality monitoring and regression models at four sites in the Yuma area, Arizona and California, January 2017 through March 2019

August 24, 2021

Multiple linear regression models were developed to estimate dissolved-solids concentrations in water at four sites in the Yuma area between Imperial Dam, Arizona and California and the southerly international boundary with Mexico at San Luis, Arizona. Continuous and discrete water-quality data were collected at gaging stations in the Colorado River upstream from Imperial Dam, Arizona-California, the Colorado River below Cooper wasteway near Yuma, Arizona, the Yuma Main Drain above Arizona–Sonora, Mexico boundary, and the 242 lateral above Main Drain at the Arizona–Sonora boundary. Continuous specific conductance and water temperature data were collected at each site between January 2017 and March 2019. Bi-weekly to monthly dissolved-solids water samples were collected during the same period. Continuous specific conductance data collected at the Colorado River below Cooper wasteway were affected by poorly mixed streamflow during periods when the Pilot Knob Hydro-electric Plant was releasing water to the river. The continuous specific conductance data for the site downstream from Cooper wasteway were corrected using mean specific conductance values computed from cross-section measurements collected during site visits. Continuous specific conductance data were affected by sensor fouling issues at the 242 lateral site, and continued operation at the site would require more frequent visits for cleaning and service to ensure data quality.

During the study, instream specific conductance readings ranged from 966 to 3,030 microsiemens per centimeter (μS/cm) at 25 degrees Celsius. Computed dissolved-solids concentrations from discrete samples ranged from 690 to 2,580 milligrams per liter (mg/L). Dissolved-solids concentrations were estimated from regression models using the optimal relation between dissolved solids and environmental factors, such as specific conductance, water temperature, dissolved oxygen, streamflow, and seasonality. Specific conductance was the primary factor at all four sites and explained 87.6 to 94 percent of variation in dissolved solids. Water temperature, as an indicator of seasonality, was determined to be a statistically significant secondary factor at both the Colorado River above Imperial Dam and Colorado River below Cooper wasteway sites explaining an additional 6.9 and 2.1 percent of variation in dissolved solids, respectively. Regression models explained 87.6 to 96.9 percent of the variation in dissolved solids; the root mean square error in the modeled data ranged between about 6 and 27 mg/L.