Discharge of brine with an average dissolved-solids concentration of about 256,000 milligrams per liter from alluvium in Paradox Valley, a collapsed salt anticline, substantially increases the dissolved-solids load of the Dolores River. In 1996, the Bureau of Reclamation began operation of the Paradox Valley Unit, a series of brine-withdrawal wells completed in alluvium along the Dolores River and a deep-injection well for the brine, to decrease flow of brine into the river. This report presents the findings of a study to determine the effectiveness of the Paradox Valley Unit from 1988 through September 2001. Differences in dissolved-solids load of the Dolores River between two gaging stations, one upstream and one downstream from the Paradox Valley Unit, indicate that an average dissolved-solids load of about 313 tons per day (an annual average of about 115,000 tons) was contributed by brine inflow to the Dolores River before operation of the Paradox Valley Unit began in July 1996. By September 30, 2001, the dissolved-solids load contributed by brine had declined to an average of about 29 tons per day? a decrease of about 90 percent. This decrease might have been facilitated by a decrease in precipitation and streamflow into the Paradox Valley during the last few years of the assessed period.
Additional Publication Details
USGS Numbered Series
Effect of the Paradox Valley Unit on the dissolved-solids load of the Dolores River near Bedrock, Colorado, 1988-2001