Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)


Civil and Environmental Engineering

Committee Chair(s)

Bethany T. Neilson


Bethany T. Neilson


Janice Brahney


Caleb Buahin


Changes to precipitation and temperature occurring as a result of climate change can influence water sources (such as groundwater or snowmelt) that contribute to stream flow in a watershed. This is significant, as shifts in the amount of water coming from different water sources can shape watershed management decisions. One technique often used to investigate changes in water sources is hydrograph separation, a mathematical tool that allows for the quantification of the amount of water that came from different water sources. However, it can be difficult to perform hydrograph separations in remote watersheds as there may be insufficient infrastructure, i.e. roads or research stations, to facilitate the detailed data collection needed for the application of hydrograph separation techniques. Thus, it is critical to understand how limited data may influence hydrograph separation and our understanding of how watersheds work and if they are changing. To explore uncertainty in the results, two different hydrograph separation methods were compared using geochemical data from the East River watershed located in the Elk Mountains of Central Colorado. Water sources were characterized using a limited set of concentration data collected at a few measurable water sources, and also by concentration data derived from stream chemistry at the outlet of the watershed. Results show that both hydrograph separation techniques gave similar estimate of annual source water contributions to stream flow. Results also indicate that using multiple hydrograph separation techniques and multiple ways of representing water sources may be useful in remote catchments that have limited data.