Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Civil and Environmental Engineering

Committee Chair(s)

Jagath J Kaluarachchi


Jagath J Kaluarachchi


Gilberto E. Urroz


David K. Stevens


Christopher M. U. Neale


Thomas E. Lachmar


Salinity issues in the Upper Colorado River Basin have been a serious concern to the western United States and northern Mexico. The Colorado River salinity is mainly come from geologic materials located in the Upper Colorado River Basin. Natural weathering and human activities, such as irrigation, accelerate the dissolution of saline materials. Economic damages due to salinity in the Colorado River Basin are estimated at $295 million in 2010, for example, reduced crop yield, plugging of water pipes and fixtures, and ecological health of rivers. In order to manage salinity in the Upper Colorado River Basin, SPARROW model has been applied to simulate salinity sources and transport. However, the model application discontinued during recent past due to lack of data. Given the motivation and importance of salinity issues in the Colorado River Basin, the overall goal of this research is to develop a decision-making framework for an effective salinity management in the Upper Colorado River Basin. First, this research introduced a methodology for reliable analysis of salinity sources and transport in the Upper Colorado River Basin. However, recent decreasing trend of number of monitoring stations may cause increase of model uncertainty. Therefore, a decision-making methodology for an effective water quality monitoring network was developed. From the results of monitoring network analysis, the redundancy or scarcity of monitoring stations in each watershed can be identified under the given operational costs. Finally, salinity management scenarios considering cost and equity were developed. Management options considering cost only can neglect the fairness in the allocation of salinity control responsibilities among stakeholders. To overcome this limitation in management, the methodology developed in this research considers cost of salinity control, equitable distributions among stakeholders, and cost efficiency. The methodologies developed in this research provide a comprehensive decision-making framework for an effective salinity management in the Upper Colorado River Basin. Moreover, this framework is not limited to the management of salinity in the Upper Colorado River only, but also can be applied to other water quality management problems.