Literature Review and Sampling Plan Development for San Juan River Water Quality Study

Project ID: 1790
Principal Investigator: Julie Korak
Research Topic: Water Quality
Funded Fiscal Years: 2017, 2018 and 2019
Keywords: None

Research Question

The Navajo-Gallup Water Supply Project (NGWSP) is a Bureau of Reclamation (Reclamation) infrastructure project that will convey water to the Navajo Nation, part of the Jicarilla Apache Nation and the city of Gallup, New Mexico. One component of the project is the design and construction of the San Juan Lateral (SJL) water treatment plant, which will treat San Juan River water and deliver potable water to the aforementioned entities. The proposed intake for the SJL water treatment plant is at the Hogback Diversion Channel, located on the San Juan River between Farmington, NM, and Shiprock, NM.
In preparation for the design and construction of the SJL water treatment plant, Reclamation has been collecting and analyzing water quality samples through online sensors and manually collected samples. Following the Gold King Mine Spill, analysis of water quality data through summer 2015 identified a need to better understand water quality fluctuations during monsoon rain events, especially in late summer and early fall with respect to metals concentrations (Bureau of Reclamation, 2016). Past sampling efforts and data analysis projects have demonstrated that flow variations due to snowmelt and monsoon events cause abrupt changes in sediment transport and water quality. Depending on the treatment process, the observed fluctuations may impact finished water quality and solids disposal.

Need and Benefit

The San Juan River is a tributary to the Colorado River, and its watershed lies in the Four Corners Area (Colorado, Utah, Arizona and New Mexico) of the United States. The entire drainage area of the San Juan River watershed (hydrologic unit 1408) covers 64,577 km2. Upstream of the Hogback Diversion Channel, five subbasins drain into the San Juan River. Based on the literature review, two subbasins, Animas and Blanco Canyon, are the largest contributors of sediment and metals to the main stem of the San Juan River.
The Animas Subbasin is the most studied subbasin with respect to water quality in the San Juan River watershed. Historical mining activity around Silverton, CO, lead to hundreds of abandoned mines, mine tailings and waste sites that contribute to acid mine drainage (AMD) within the headwaters of the watershed. The Upper
Animas River was the studied extensively during fiscal years 1997 through 2001 as a part of the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Abandoned Mine Lands Initiative (AMLI), which was a coordinated effort between the U.S. Department of the Interior and U.S. Department of Agriculture (Church et al., 2007b).

Contributing Partners

Contact the Principal Investigator for information about partners.

Research Products

Bureau of Reclamation Review

The following documents were reviewed by experts in fields relating to this project's study and findings. The results were determined to be achieved using valid means.

Literature Review and Sampling Plan Development for San Juan River Water Quality Study (final, PDF, 4.4MB)
By Julie Korak
Publication completed on September 30, 2016

The San Juan Lateral water treatment plant is one component of the Navajo-Gallup Water Supply Project, which will treat San Juan River water and deliver potable water. Past sampling efforts and data analysis projects have demonstrated that flow variations due to snowmelt and monsoon events cause abrupt changes in sediment transport and water quality. This study conducted a literature review focusing on water quality in the San Juan River watershed and collected data from previous efforts. Knowledge gaps pertinent to the design and operation of the San Juan Lateral water treatment plant are identified. Past sampling efforts at the Hogback Diversion Channel are summarized, and a modified sampling plan is proposed for fiscal years 2017 and 2018.


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Last Updated: 4/4/17