Great Basin Naturalist Memoirs


This paper summarizes hydrological and water findings from investigations by the authors and their colleagues over the past 10 years.
Water and salt balances on Utah Lake for the July 1970 to July 1973 period show both evaporation (342,077 ac-ft/yr) and groundwater (114,355 ac-ft/yr) to be somewhat larger than previously estimated by others.
The lake is eutrophic, turbid, and slightly saline, as might be expected in a shallow, basin-bottom lake in a semi-arid area. Overall water quality in the lake is fair to good and appears to be controlled more by natural factors than by the activities of man. An increase in total dissolved solids (TDS) from about 300 mg/l in major surface and shallow groundwater inflows to about 900 mg/l in the main lake is the most significant water quality change. Of this TDS increase, about one-half results from evaporation of about one-half of the total inflowing water, one-quarter from salts carried by mineralized deep-spring inflows, and the remaining one quarter from the poorer quality surface inflows to the lake.
Calcium carbonate (calcite) precipitation from the lake waters accounts for about 40 percent of the estimated 0.85 mm/yr (0.033 in/yr) long-term rate of sediment buildup of the lake bottom. This precipitated calcite is postulated to be an important turbidity source in the wave-stirred lake.