A paleolimnological investigation of historical environmental change in East Canyon Reservoir
East Canyon Reservoir is located 32 km east of Salt Lake City, Utah, and serves as a resource for irrigation, culinary water, and recreation. This research used paleolimnology and historical records to investigate the impacts of multiple stressors, including land clearance, dam construction and enlargement, and climate warming on East Canyon Reservoir. Recently, blue green algal blooms, typically indicative of eutrophication, have been increasing at East Canyon Reservoir despite reductions of nutrients from point sources, so part of the impetus for this study was to understand the forcing mechanisms of these blooms. A multiproxy analysis of three sediment cores retrieved from the reservoir determined changes in nutrient concentrations and sediment composition over time. Percent organics, magnetic susceptibility, and diatom analyses of 210Pb dated cores were compared to measurements of temperature and precipitation as well as records of historical land use, which were determined using remote sensing. Percent organics and magnetic susceptibility showed changes related to dam construction and increased development. Fossil diatom assemblages indicated that East Canyon Reservoir had been eutrophic since origination; however, principal components analyses of the diatom data indicated that the canyon became more P-enriched following dam construction and increased development. Recent increases in Cyclotella diatoms indicate changes related to warming temperatures, and we speculate that this warming is also what is causing blue-green algal blooms to increase.
University of Utah;
East Canyon Reservoir; Paleolimnology; Remote sensing; Reservoir; Utah; Water resources