Water and Soil Laboratory

The Lower Colorado Region Water and Soil Laboratory in Boulder City, Nevada, conducts several activities related to the Bureau of Reclamation's stewardship of water in the Lower Colorado River Basin. Staffed by an experienced chemist and skilled technicians, and equipped with high-quality computer-automated analysis systems, the Laboratory provides accurate and timely soil and water test reports to help address water-related issues of state, national, and international scopes, and conducts research to support the development and regulation of technically informed water-related policies.

Lab Supervisor Amy Stephenson

The Laboratory provides results for a wide-range of major activities including studies of impacts of Las Vegas return flows on Lake Mead water quality, evaluation of management options for the Salton Sea, determinations of salt concentrations in Lower Colorado River water, the feasibility of certain locations for riparian re-vegetation projects for the Lower Colorado River Multi-Species Conservation Program, and more.

Annually, the Laboratory performs chemical and mechanical analyses of nearly 3,000 soil and water samples from throughout the Lower Colorado River Basin for the Bureau of Reclamation and other federal agency offices.

Reliability of data, strict adherence to Quality Assurance/Quality Control protocols, and prompt service are the primary goals of the Laboratory personnel.

A broad range of analytical testing services are available:

Water and soil extracts

EC - Electrical Conductivity
pH - Relative Acidity/Alkalinity
TDS - Total Dissolved Solids (evaporative method)
Anions - Sulfate, Chloride, Carbonate, Bicarbonate
Cations - Sodium, Potassium, Calcium, and Magnesium
Minors - Fluoride and Silica
Nutrients - Nitrate-Nitrite, Ammonia, Boron, total Phosphorous, total Nitrogen, TKN and ortho-Phosphorous
Trace Elements - Al, Ag, As, Ba, Be, Cd, Co, Cr, Cu, Fe, Mn, Mo, Ni, Pb, Se, Sn, Sr, Tl, and Zn
Special - Chlorophyll, Pheophytin, Total Suspended Matter, and Residue on Ignition


Screening tests:
1:5 tests - EC, pH, settling volume
Textural Classification
Percent Salt

Complete soil analyses:
Saturated paste extraction
Trace elements
ESP (Exchangeable Sodium Percentage)

Unified Soil Classification

Atterberg Limits

Special tests:
Specific gravity

These tests are performed with a wide variety of state-of-the-art instrumentation, including:

Perkin-Elmer AAnalyst 100 Flame Atomic Absorption Spectrophotometer
Perkin-Elmer SIMA 6100 Graphite Furnace Atomic Absorption Spectrophotometer
Varian Cary 100 Ultra Violet Visible Spectrophotometer
Dionex ICS Ion Chromatograph
OI analytical Flow Solution IV Segmented Flow Analyzer
Milestone DMA 80 Direct Mercury Analyzer

If you have questions about the Laboratory's testing services or capabilities, contact Laboratory Supervisor Amy Stephenson at 702-293-8598, astephenson@usbr.gov, or write to: 500 Fir St., Building 1000, Attn: LC-2550, Boulder City, NV 89005.

Last Updated: 7/2/15