Fri Apr 10th, 2020
Environmental Programs Division
In a continued effort to monitor and improve the water quality on the Reservation, the Water Quality Program has developed a plan to track nutrient loading in the Pine River during storm and high runoff events. This will involve the use of specialized monitoring equipment to accurately measure the flow in the Pine River and its major tributaries and allow us to correlate concentrations of nutrients like Nitrogen and Phosphorus with changes in river flows.
Administering this project will provide many benefits to the Tribe. It will allow the Water Quality Program to more closely monitor the amount nutrients in the Pine River system, this is important because excessive nutrient in a river essentially acts like a fertilizer. This can lead to unsightly blooms of algae (mucky green rivers aren’t very pleasant to look at or smell), suffocation of native vegetation, and suffocation of native fish.
Understanding nutrient flow will allow the water quality program to implement effective remediation projects to help reduce nutrient flow into the Pine River. This project will also give the Water Quality Program a chance to develop an accurate system for measuring water flow in the tributaries (small streams) of the Pine River and develop a stage discharge rate curve. A stage discharge rating curve will provide a better understanding of water flow in the tributaries, and potentially prove to be a useful tool in future high-water events, similar to what we experienced during the summer of 2019.
In addition to special projects, the Water Quality Program staff continue to track the overall health of surface waters within tribal boundaries by assessing water chemistry, metal concentrations, bacteria, and by collaborating with surrounding agencies and Tribes to create a large unified database of water quality across the nation. Water quality data continues to be uploaded for public access and can be found at https://www.waterqualitydata.us.
Unfortunately, due to COVID-19 pandemic, the Environmental Programs Division- Water Quality Program has temporarily suspended groundwater testing services to Southern Ute tribal members until social distancing guidelines are lifted and Tribal Council has lifted the stay at home order. The Water Quality Program continues to serve and inform the membership to the best of our ability from home.
For more information about the Tribe’s Water Quality Program visit: https://www.southernute-nsn.gov/justice-and-regulatory/epd/water-quality/.