Turbidity is a measurement of water clarity. The degree to which light penetration is blocked by suspended solids is called turbidity. Suspended solids are the amount of materials suspended in the water (soil, sediment, microorganisms, pollution, etc.) effect how deeply light can penetrate. Many large rivers in Southern Utah are naturally turbid, due to the loose sandy soils, which add a lot of sediments to the stream.
In spring, during snow melt and rain runoff the water level (flow) increases, which increases the turbidity. On the other hand, riparian vegetation reduces turbidity due to the plant root systems keeping soil out of the stream.
If a stream's turbidity increases beyond natural levels, it loses its ability to support life that has adapted to those levels. To get further information on turbidity and its' importance visit these websites: EPA & USU Extension.
We measure turbidity of streams with a turbidity tube and for ponds, wetlands or lakes, a Secchi Disk is used.
|Turbidity tube||Secchi disk|