How can we tell if our watershed is in good condition?
Here are a few simple things to check:
|Riparian vegetation along a healthy stream|
Many of Utah's streams have cold-water fish, macroinvertebrates, and amphibians that require cold temperatures (maximum: 20 degrees Celcius, 68 degrees Farenheit) to survive. Temperatures may fluctuate across seasons, but drastic temperature changes can hinder the metabolic activity of organisms.
|Clear water is most desirable, but it doesn't necessarily mean the water is clean. Some pollutants are not colored.||
Erosion of sediments can cause streams to appear brown or cloudy. This is not necessarily a bad sign. All streams have a natural level of turbidity (how much suspended material is in the water). For example, the Colorado River is very turbid, yet its waters hold abundant life.
|Green water can be caused by excessive algae. This generally is an indicator of poor water quality.||An oily or rainbow sheen on water is an indicator of poor water quality. Oil usually enters waterways from runoff of oil on roads from automobiles.|
|Natural foam in a stream|
|Riffle and pool|
Find out more about your watershed
Surf Your Watershed (EPA)
Utah Water Watch (USU Water Quality Extension)
Science in Your Watershed (USGS)
Watershed Factsheets (USU Water Quality Extension)