Muddy Creek is located in the southeastern part of central Utah and is a tributary of the Dirty Devil River, which, in turn, is a tributary of the Colorado River. Dissolved solids transported from the Muddy Creek Basin may be stored in the lower Dirty Devil River Basin, but are eventually discharged to the Colorado River and impact downstream water users. This study used selected dissolved-solids measurements made by various local, State, and Federal agencies from the 1970s through 2006, and additional dissolved-solids data that were collected by the U.S. Geological Survey during April 2004 through November 2006, to compute dissolved-solids loads, determine the distribution of dissolved-solids concentrations, and identify trends in dissolved-solids concentration in surface water of the Muddy Creek Basin.
The dissolved-solids concentration values measured in water samples collected from Muddy Creek during April 2004 through October 2006 ranged from 385 milligrams per liter (mg/L) to 5,950 mg/L. The highest dissolved-solids concentration values measured in the study area were in water samples collected at sites in South Salt Wash (27,000 mg/L) and Salt Wash (4,940 to 6,780 mg/L).
The mean annual dissolved-solids load in Muddy Creek for the periods October 1976 to September 1980 and October 2005 to September 2006 was smallest at a site near the headwaters (9,670 tons per year [tons/yr]) and largest at a site at the mouth (68,700 tons/yr). For this period, the mean annual yield of dissolved solids from the Muddy Creek Basin was 44 tons per square mile. During October 2005 to September 2006, direct runoff transported as much as 45 percent of the annual dissolved-solids load at the mouth of Muddy Creek.
A storm that occurred during October 5?7, 2006 resulted in a peak streamflow at the mouth of Muddy Creek of 7,150 cubic feet per second (ft3/s) and the transport of an estimated 35,000 tons of dissolved solids, which is about 51 percent of the average annual dissolved-solids load at the mouth of Muddy Creek.
A significant downward trend in dissolved-solids concentrations from 1973 to 2006 was determined for Muddy Creek at a site just downstream of that portion of the basin containing agricultural land. Dissolved-solids concentrations decreased about 2.1 percent per year; however, the rate of change was a decrease of 1.8 percent per year when dissolved-solids concentrations were adjusted for flow.
Additional publication details
USGS Numbered Series
Dissolved-solids transport in surface water of the Muddy Creek Basin, Utah