• water quality;
  • nutrients;
  • nitrogen;
  • phosphorus;
  • Colorado River

ABSTRACT: As part of a basinwide water-quality study, nitrogen and phosphorus data for the Upper Colorado River Basin from the Colorado-Utah State line to the Continental Divide were analyzed for spatial distributions, concentrations associated with various land uses, and temporal trends. Nitrogen and phosphorus concentrations generally increased in a downstream direction. Some nutrient concentrations were elevated at some sites in the upper parts of the basin in areas influenced by increasing urbanization. Sites were grouped according to land use and site type, and median nutrient concentrations were compared among groups. Sites within the agricultural areas of the basin generally had the highest concentrations of nitrogen and phosphorus; concentrations for main-stem, tributary, and urbanization sites were slightly lower than for the agricultural sites. Background sites, or sites with minimal land-use impacts, had very low median nutrient concentrations. Several sites with long-term data were analyzed for temporal trends in concentrations. Several statistically significant downward trends of low and moderate magnitude were observed for nitrogen and phosphorus species. No upward trends were observed in the data at any site.