Population growth and changes in land-use practices have the potential to affect water quality and quantity in the upper Gunnison River basin. In 1995, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), in cooperation with local sponsors, City of Gunnison, Colorado River Water Conservation District, Crested Butte South Metropolitan District, Gunnison County, Mount Crested Butte Water and Sanitation District, National Park Service, Town of Crested Butte, and Upper Gunnison River Water Conservancy District, established a water-quality monitoring program in the upper Gunnison River basin to characterize current water-quality conditions and to assess the effects of increased urban development and other land-use changes on water quality. The monitoring network has evolved into two groups of stations, stations that are considered as long term and stations that are rotational. The long-term stations are monitored to assist in defining temporal changes in water quality (how conditions have changed over time). The rotational stations are monitored to assist in the spatial definition of water-quality conditions (how conditions differ throughout the basin) and to address local and short term concerns. Another group of stations (rotational group 2) will be chosen and sampled beginning in water year 2004. Annual summaries of the water-quality data from the monitoring network provide a point of reference for discussions regarding water-quality sampling in the upper Gunnison River basin.
This summary includes data collected during water year 2002. The introduction provides a map of the sampling locations, definitions of terms, and a one-page summary of selected water-quality conditions at the network stations. The remainder of the summary is organized around the data collected at individual stations. Data collected during water year 2002 are compared to historical data (data collected for this network since 1995), state water-quality standards, and federal water-quality guidelines. Data were collected during water year 2002 following USGS protocols (U.S. Geological Survey, variously dated).