Dissolved-solids loading from 17 natural catchments and 14 irrigated catchments in the Upper Colorado River Basin was examined for the period from 1974 through 2003. In general, dissolved-solids loading increased and decreased concurrently in natural and irrigated catchments but at different magnitudes. Annually, the magnitude of loading in natural catchments changed about 10 percent more, on average, than in irrigated catchments. Measures of variability, or spread, indicate that natural catchments had 35 percent greater annual variability in loading than irrigated catchments. Precipitation and dissolved-solids loads were positively correlated in natural catchments, and a weak positive correlation was determined for irrigated catchments. A weak negative correlation between temperature and dissolved-solids load was determined for both natural and irrigated catchments. In irrigated catchments, the dissolved-solids load response to an above-average precipitation period from 1982 through 1987 generally lagged behind that in the natural catchments. On average, irrigated catchments with reservoir storage had the largest normalized maximum annual loads during the wet period.
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USGS Numbered Series
Analysis of annual dissolved-solids loading from selected natural and irrigated catchments in the Upper Colorado River Basin, 1974-2003