High quality water resources are universally vital to human and ecological health. In arid southwest Wyoming, water is vital not only to the existence of wildlife and to the health of communities, but is crucial to the success of farming and ranching operations as well. Energy and resource development can affect water quality, streamflow, and aquatic habitats. An understanding of surface water and groundwater dynamics and interactions is necessary to project effects of development on water resources, aquatic habitats, and fish and other species that depend upon these habitats. Long-term monitoring of water resources allows assessment of trends; evaluation of the effectiveness of restoration, mitigation, or reclamation activities; and informs adaptive management for future planning.
USGS research on water resources in the WLCI focuses on understanding the foundational dynamics of water in the region and development of monitoring strategies that will inform planning and management. Our research builds on the existing data collection and monitoring activities of the Wyoming-Montana Water Science Center. Through partnership with the existing Wyoming Groundwater Quality Monitoring Network, we are collecting expanded information on water quality in the WLCI as well as long-term monitoring of groundwater, surface water, and water quality in the Upper Green River Basin and Muddy Creek watershed. Many USGS studies contribute baseline information for the WLCI region and provide data for detection of trends in water quality and changing water dynamics in specific watersheds or sub-basins in the WLCI. Water resources research also supports on-going studies of the effects of development on fish and aquatic communities.
Examples of products of this research include:
- potentiometric map (map of elevation of groundwater and direction of groundwater flow)
- long-term monitoring of surface waters (streamflow, water quality)
- assessments (bed sediments, biotic components, elements in the water)
- paired monitoring of streamflow gages and adjacent wells
- data that tie fish habitat and community assemblage characteristics to water characteristics
- analyses and models
- professional papers