2013 Research Catalyst Grantee



Steven Emerman

Steven Emerman

Utah Valley University


Project Title

The use of stable isotopes of water to determine pathways of mining-related contaminants in Salt Lake and Utah Valleys, Utah



This iUTAH EPSCoR project involves five scientists from three institutions (University of Utah, Utah Valley University, Westminster College) with expertise in aquatic biology, mining-related contamination of surface and subsurface water, and the use of stable isotopes of water and nitrogen. Recent work has shown that fluvial As in American Fork and Provo River in Utah Valley exceeds EPA standards for chronic and acute exposure for freshwater streams, respectively, which is not unusual for rivers affected by historic mining. This finding raises the possibility that elevated As may occur in the numerous shallow “pioneer wells” that Salt lake and Utah Valley residents are maintaining for emergency water supply. The objectives of this project are to: (1) expand sample collection to shallow and deep groundwater in Salt Lake and Utah Valley, (2) expand sample collection to Bear River, Big Cottonwood Creek, Emigration Creek, Mill Creek, Spanish Fork and Weber River, and include sediment sampling in all of the above rivers, (3) measure sulfate, nitrate, phosphate and heavy metals to test competing models for As mobilization, (4) measure stable isotopes of water to determine groundwater pathways, (5) measure stable isotopes of nitrogen to determine nitrogen pathways.



Gabriel Bowen, The University of Utah
Christy Clay, Westminster College
James Ehleringer, The University of Utah
Suzanne Walther, Utah Valley University