Changes in salinity in groundwater and surface water in the Arkansas River valley of southeastern Colorado are primarily related to irrigation practices. A solute transport model was applied to an 11-mile reach of the valley to compute salinity changes in response to spatially and temporally varying stresses. The model was calibrated in 1973 using detailed field measurements made during 1971 and 1972. In 1973 the calibrated model was used to predict that a gradual long-term increase in groundwater salinity of about 2-3% per year would occur if the observed irrigation practices continued. The study area was resampled during the winter of 1982 to help evaluate if any long-term changes in salinity are actually occurring. Nonparametric and parametric statistical tests were used to help assess the significance of observed changes in groundwater salinity.
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Assessment of long-term salinity changes in an irrigated stream-aquifer system