Chemical and Biological Survey of the Upper Gila River System in New Mexico: Preliminary Study of Nutrients in Snow and Quemado Lakes
Baseline water quality was investigated for a sector of the Gila River System near its headwaters in New Mexico. A part of this system is very heavily used for recreation. In addition, three fishing/recreational lakes were studied to attempt to find the causative factors for destructive algal blooms. Levels of nutrients, heavy metals, bacteria and algae were determined in addition to general water chemistry profiles. It was found that although algal blooms occur, especially in Snow Lake, the nutrient levels were not exceptionally high. Elevated nitrogen concentrations were probably due to fixation of nitrogen by microorganisms. A significant factor seemed to be the available phosphate in Snow Lake. This lake also warmed earlier than Quemado Lake which may have been important in providing a longer period for algae growth. A few heavy metal levels were higher than would have been expected. No correlation appeared between bacterial counts and water chemistry.