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The Colorado River is a principal source of water for 40 million people and farmlands in seven states in the western US and the Republic of Mexico. The river has been under intense pressure from the effects of climate change and anthropogenic activities associated with population growth leading to elevated total dissolved solid (TDS) and total suspended solid (TSS) concentrations. Elevated TDS- and TSS-related issues in the basin have a direct negative impact on the water usage and the ecological health of aquatic organisms. This study, therefore, analyzed the spatiotemporal variability in the TDS and TSS concentrations along the river. Results from our analysis show that TDS concentration was significantly higher in the Upper Colorado River Basin while the Lower Colorado River Basin shows a generally high level of TSSs. We found that the activities in these two basins are distinctive and may be a factor in these variations. Results from the Kruskal–Wallis significance test show there are statistically significant differences in TDSs and TSSs from month to month, season to season, and year to year. These significant variations are largely due to seasonal rises in consumptive use, agriculture practices, snowmelts runoffs, and evaporate rates exacerbated by increased temperature in the summer months. The findings from this study will aid in understanding the river’s water quality, detecting the sources and hotspots of pollutions to the river, and guiding legislative actions. The knowledge obtained forms a strong basis for management and conservation efforts and consequently helps to reduce the economic damage caused by these water quality parameters including the over USD 300 million associated with TDS damages.


Anthropogenic; Lower Colorado River Basin; Spatiotemporal; Total Dissolved Solids (TDSs); Total Suspended Solids (TSSs); Upper Colorado River Basin; Statistical Analysis; Variability


Civil and Environmental Engineering

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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

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