Salinity Assessment Project

In 2001, Northern Water received a grant from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation to assess salinity levels in the Lower South Platte River basin. Over time, salts (salinity) in irrigation water can accumulate in the soil and potentially reduce the crop yields of once-productive farm fields.

The primary objective of the Study of Salinity in the Lower South Platte River Basin (Salinity Assessment Project) was to assess the current salinity levels in the Lower South Platte River, its tributaries, regional irrigation canals and reservoirs and irrigated agricultural soils.

To achieve the study’s objective, Northern Water installed automated electrical conductivity (ECw) stations along the Lower South Platte River and its tributaries to collect near real-time data.

Several electrical conductivity stations were installed near gauging stations to calculate salinity mass loading. In addition, Northern Water took several manual samples between automated stations, irrigation canals and reservoirs to further bolster the salinity-levels database.

In addition to collecting and assessing salinity levels for both surface and groundwater supplies, Northern Water surveyed soil salinity levels of numerous irrigated agricultural fields in the Lower South Platte River basin. The farm fields were randomly selected and surveyed using a mobile Salinity Assessment Module (SAM) Northern Water specifically designed to collect soil salinity data.

The project received funding for six years and data collection ended in 2006.  Annual summary reports document the Salinity Assessment Project’s progress and results, including valuable salinity level information for the Lower South Platte River basin.

Electrical conductivity monitoring station
Monitoring Station
An automated electrical conductivity monitoring station in the Lower South Platte River basin.
Additional InformationFor additional information regarding the Salinity Assessment Project please contact:
Alan A. Halley
Field Services Manager

Salinity Annual Summaries