Southwestern Wyoming is an area of diverse scenery, wildlife, and natural resources that is actively undergoing energy development. The U.S. Department of the Interior's Wyoming Landscape Conservation Initiative is a long-term science-based effort to assess and enhance aquatic and terrestrial habitats at a landscape scale, while facilitating responsible energy development through local collaboration and partnerships. Water-quality monitoring has been conducted by the U.S. Geological Survey on the Green River near Green River, Wyoming, and Muddy Creek near Baggs, Wyoming. This monitoring, which is being conducted in cooperation with State and other Federal agencies and as part of the Wyoming Landscape Conservation Initiative, is in response to concerns about potentially increased dissolved solids in the Colorado River Basin as a result of energy development. Because of the need to provide real-time dissolved-solids concentrations for the Green River and Muddy Creek on the World Wide Web, the U.S. Geological Survey developed regression equations to estimate dissolved-solids concentrations on the basis of continuous specific conductance using relations between measured specific conductance and dissolved-solids concentrations.
Specific conductance and dissolved-solids concentrations were less varied and generally lower for the Green River than for Muddy Creek. The median dissolved-solids concentration for the site on the Green River was 318 milligrams per liter, and the median concentration for the site on Muddy Creek was 943 milligrams per liter. Dissolved-solids concentrations ranged from 187 to 594 milligrams per liter in samples collected from the Green River during water years 1999-2008. Dissolved-solids concentrations ranged from 293 to 2,485 milligrams per liter in samples collected from Muddy Creek during water years 2006-08. The differences in dissolved-solids concentrations in samples collected from the Green River compared to samples collected from Muddy Creek reflect the different basin characteristics.
Relations between specific conductance and dissolved-solids concentrations were statistically significant for the Green River (p-value less than 0.001) and Muddy Creek (p-value less than 0.001); therefore, specific conductance can be used to estimate dissolved-solids concentrations. Using continuous specific conductance values to estimate dissolved solids in real-time on the World Wide Web increases the amount and improves the timeliness of data available to water managers for assessing dissolved-solids concentrations in the Colorado River Basin.