pH testpH is a measurement of the acidity or basicity of the water. We measure the pH on a scale of 0 to 14 - values below 7 indicate acidic solutions, and greater than 7 indicate basic solutions. For more information on pH read Understanding Your Watershed: pH.

    pH of water is also critical for the organisms that live in the water.  Most fish and aquatic insects have difficulty surviving outside the healthy range of freshwater pH.    

    Many things can affect the pH of the water such as:

    • watershed geology,
    • seasonal trends,
    • photosynthesis of plants.


    • Limestone rock contains minerals which buffer streams (found throughout central and northern Utah).
    • When pine or fir forests are present in the watershed, the surrounding water may have a lower, more acidic pH value.
    • Rainwater has a natural pH of 5.6.
    • The lowest pH levels will occur just before sunrise, because during the day photosynthesis of aquatic plants removes carbon dioxide from the water thus raising the pH of the stream.

    Lakes and streams in Utah should be between 6.5 to 9.0 pH.

    Visit our pH information page for more information on natural and human factors that influence pH.

    Steps to measure pH:



    Remove a test strip from the container and then reseal the container

    pH color strips

    Place colored end of test strip in the water for 30 seconds

    stirp in water

    Remove test strip from the water and shake off excess water.  Wait 2 minutes for the strip to fully react 


    Compare test strip to the color guide and select the closest color match. Record the pH

    color compare