Mining in the Grand Canyon Watershed and the Implications on the Water Quality of Local Springs.

Document Type


Publication Date


Publication Title

GSA Annual Meeting 2018

Publisher Location

Indianapolis, Indiana


Recently, a U.S. court of appeals voted to uphold a uranium mining ban in the area immediately surrounding Grand Canyon National Park, however, up to 11 claims in the nearby region could still be eligible for development. Mining in the region has been debated for several decades with opponents claiming that the mining has led to the contamination of water that runs through the canyon which hosts a diverse ecology and is heavily relied upon for drinking water. In order to determine the impact of contaminants in water sources, it is important to collect water quality data from past measurements and survey. There are several agencies that have conducted water quality testing in and around the canyon, but there is little sharing of this data, making it difficult to determine the extent of contamination. Over the last two years, a database of water quality data from the region has been developed with the aim of consolidating the data sources and making it available to researchers. From this database, we find that many contaminant parameters measurements including: arsenic, uranium, and selenium have exceeded the U.S Environmental Protection Agency’s drinking water MCLs (Maximum Contaminant Levels) for several water sources. Trends in the aqueous contaminant concentrations and levels and possible correlation to the type of waterbody (streams, creeks, and springs), as well as natural events, such as precipitation, are investigated.





UNLV article access