Water Quality Assessment for the Upper Uncompahgre Watershed

River Watch Data Summary (2019-2021) and Review of WQCC 2022 Regulation 93 – 303(d) List of Impaired Waters

UWP has participated in the Colorado Parks and Wildlife River Watch Program since 2013. Previous UWP reports summarized River Watch data through 2018. Since then, six UWP volunteers have collected water quality samples at six to eleven sites, ranging from a site on Red Mountain Creek at 10,882 ft, down to a site on Cow Creek below Ridgway Reservoir at 6,605 ft. Four new sites were established in 2021 to aid the Water Quality Control Division is establishing total maximum daily loads (TMDLs), and one new site below Lower Blue Lake was established to add supporting data for a U.S. Forest Service study on visitor impact. From May 2019 through December 2021, there were 103 River Watch sampling events.

This assessment of water quality in the upper Uncompahgre Watershed was produced to provide UWP and its stakeholders with a background of recent water quality data and provide a basis for developing the next Uncompahgre Watershed Plan and future UWP projects. Funding support for UWP’s water quality monitoring and analysis is provided by the Town of Ridgway, City of Ouray, and Ouray County.

Interested in water quality?

The updated River Watch story map shows all active River Watch water quality monitoring stations in Colorado for 2022-2023, and features a new map that color codes each station based on whether it is or is not meeting water quality standards. In addition to River Watch data being used by watershed groups, classrooms, communities, and Colorado Parks and Wildlife for management decisions, the data collected by citizen scientists also makes up ~1/3 of all data used by the Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment! This data informs whether rivers in Colorado are attaining or impaired for water quality standards to meet the designated use in that reach (aquatic life, agriculture, recreation, or drinking water). This data is uploaded to the EPA’s National Water Quality Database where it is publicly available. The River Watch database is also available for public viewing and research.