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Water quality of Rob Roy Reservoir and Lake Owen, Albany County, and Granite Springs and Crystal Lake Reservoirs, Laramie County, Wyoming, 1997-98

March 1, 2001

The water quality of four reservoirs was assessed during 1997 and 1998 as a cooperative project between the Cheyenne Board of Public Utilities and the U. S. Geological Survey. The four reservoirs, Rob Roy, Lake Owen, Granite Springs, and Crystal Lake, provide approximately 75 percent of the public water supply for Cheyenne, Wyoming. Samples of water and bottom sediment were collected and analyzed for selected physical, chemical, and biological characteristics to provide data about the reservoirs. Water flows between the reservoirs through a series of pipelines and stream channels. The reservoirs differ in physical characteristics such as elevation, volume, and depth.Profiles of temperature, dissolved oxygen, specific conductance, and pH were examined. Three of the four reservoirs exhibited stratification during the summer. The profiles indicate that stratification develops in all reservoirs except Lake Owen. Stratification developed in Rob Roy, Granite Springs, and Crystal Lake Reservoirs by mid-July in 1998 and continued until September, with the thickness of the epilimnion increasing during that time. Secchi disk readings indicated Rob Roy Reservoir had the clearest water of the four reservoirs studied.The composition of the phytoplankton community was different in the upper two reservoirs from that in the lower two reservoirs. Many of the species found in Rob Roy Reservoir and Lake Owen are associated with oligotrophic, nutrient-poor conditions. In contrast, many of the species found in Granite Springs and Crystal Lake Reservoirs are associated with mesotrophic or eutrophic conditions. The total number of taxa identified also increased downstream.The chemical water type in the reservoirs was similar, but dissolved-solids concentrations were greater in the downstream reservoirs. Water in all four reservoirs was a calcium-bicarbonate type. In the fall of 1997, Rob Roy Reservoir had the lowest dissolved-solids concentration (19 milligrams per liter), whereas Crystal Lake Reservoir had the highest concentration (63 milligrams per liter). Relatively little differences in the concentrations of major-ion species were noted between samples collected near the surface and near the bottom of the same reservoir. In contrast, iron and manganese concentrations generally were higher in samples collected near the bottom of a reservoir than in near-surface samples collected from the same reservoir.Composite bottom-sediment samples from all four reservoirs contained similar concentrations of bulk constituents such as aluminum, iron, phosphorus and titanium, but varied in concentrations of trace elements. Trace-element concentrations in Rob Roy Reservoir and Lake Owen were similar to the crustal average, whereas in Granite Springs and Crystal Lake Reservoirs the concentrations were similar to granitic rocks.