Groundwater & Wetlands
The Groundwater and Wetlands Program evaluates the quantity and quality of Utah’s groundwater resources, and performs wetland mapping and field assessments. The program coordinates with local, county, State, and Federal agencies to perform a wide variety of groundwater and wetland studies and makes the data publicly available through our web applications, publications, and external websites. Our results help our partners make scientifically sound decisions on important growth, natural resource, and environmental issues.
The Groundwater section conducts multidisciplinary hydrogeologic studies to assess and quantify geologic controls on groundwater conditions, groundwater levels, water-quality issues, recharge-to-discharge flow paths, surface water–groundwater interactions, and geothermal resources. Our studies combine aspects of geology, physical hydrology, water chemistry, geophysics and, in some cases, wetland and wildlife ecology. Typical project types include:
Hydrogeologic and Hydrologic Studies
We conduct comprehensive studies of the hydrogeology, groundwater levels and trends, groundwater flow paths, and quantity of recharge, discharge, and surface flow in hydrologic basins. These projects typically occur in areas of rapid population growth facing complex water supply, water quality, and water rights issues.
Nitrate Source Mapping
Our nitrate source mapping projects characterize the concentration, distribution, and sources of nitrate in groundwater. We also provide septic tank density analyses to evaluate the effect on drinking water quality of increasing population growth that does not utilize sewer systems. This work helps local and state water managers mitigate potential health-related water quality problems.
Water-Quality Aquifer Classification
We map the distribution of dissolved solids and the occurrence and concentration of elements or compounds of concern in groundwater, based on the EPA’s drinking water standards. Aquifer classification projects are conducted in coordination with local water managers to help them petition the Utah Water Quality Board for aquifer classification, which allows long-term protection of drinking-water quality.
Groundwater Monitoring Systems
We have established groundwater monitoring systems that quantify changes in spring flow and groundwater quantity and quality at select locations and statewide. The projects focus on specific areas of concern such as Snake Valley in west-central Utah, which has potential interstate water-use and species of conservation concern issues, or are collected statewide to evaluate the overall status of Utah’s groundwater resources as in our participation in the National Groundwater Monitoring Network.
We characterize the hydrogeologic setting, water chemistry, and flow paths of geothermal waters used to generate electricity.
Effects of Environmental Restoration Projects
We partner with the Utah’s Watershed Restoration Initiative, the Utah State University Extension’s Community-Based Conservation Program, and Federal and State land and water managers to evaluate changes in groundwater, surface water, wet meadows, and upland vegetation that result from large-scale pinyon-juniper treatment and beaver dam analog projects.
Aquifer Storage and Recovery
We coordinate with local water managers and water conservancy districts to implement and evaluate aquifer storage and recovery pilot projects aimed at long-term groundwater conservation. Our primary roles are to evaluate the geologic setting of proposed project areas and track the fate of groundwater recharged by these projects.
We conduct petrographic analysis of cuttings collected during drilling of new water wells, in coordination with the Utah Division of Water Rights. Results help evaluate the aquifers tapped by water supply wells and are available on the Division of Water Rights web page.
In coordination with the Wetlands section, we conduct field surveys and inventories of springs and their associated ecosystems to provide baseline data for water rights quantification and resource assessment on public lands.
The Wetlands section conducts studies to map, inventory, and assess wetlands to determine the location, type, condition, and potential functions of wetlands in the state and develop a baseline of information to evaluate future change. The Wetlands section developed Utah’s wetland program plan with the Utah Division of Water Quality in 2017, a strategic plan to direct the State’s efforts in wetland research, protection, and regulation, and many of the actions that the UGS takes follow from the plan. Typical project types include:
We are updating outdated National Wetlands Inventory mapping in several areas of the state to provide more accurate spatial data for land owners, planners, wildlife specialists, and others who need to know the location, type, and potential function of wetlands in the state.
We developed and continue to refine the Utah Rapid Assessment Protocol, a field method to evaluate the condition and potential function of Utah’s wetlands. We have conducted probabilistic basin-wide wetland assessments in part or all of the Jordan, Weber, and Bear River watersheds and are now focused on conducting assessments in major ecoregions in the state.
We install and maintain shallow piezometers in important wetland systems to monitor water levels over time. This work is primarily being conducted in Snake Valley and focused on habitat for sensitive species.
We have expertise in wetland plant identification and contribute specimens to herbaria to make them available for further study.
We developed geospatial models to quantify aquatic stress at local and watershed scales and continue to collaborate on other projects to create spatial data for landscape planning efforts.
We conduct field inventories of springs, seeps, and other aquatic features.
We lead an informal working group of wetland specialists that meet periodically to discuss new projects and exchange ideas. If you would like to join the group, please email email@example.com.
Groundwater & Wetlands Staff
Phone: (801) 537-3385
Hugh Hurlow is a hydrogeologist and the Program Manager for the Groundwater & Wetlands Program at the Utah Geological Survey, joining the Survey in 1995. He has a Ph.D. from the University of Washington (1992), a M.S. from the University of Wyoming (1987), and a Sc.B. from Brown University (1984), all in geological sciences. He was a Visiting Assistant Professor at the University of Montana for two years prior to moving to Utah. Hugh’s first UGS project was a hydrogeologic study of the St. George–Kanarraville area in southwestern Utah. Other significant projects include studying the hydrogeologic framework and establishing a regional groundwater monitoring network in Snake Valley and adjacent areas in west-central Utah; hydrogeologic setting of springs in eastern Arches National Park; and work in progress to study the hydrologic effects of large-scale environmental restoration of sage-steppe ecosystems. Awards include the UGS Crawford Award for outstanding UGS publications for his 2014 Snake Valley and 2008 Curlew Valley hydrogeologic reports (UGS Bulletin 135 and Special Study 126, respectively). Hugh is from Tacoma, Washington, and spends significant time in Washington and Oregon visiting his and his wife Marilyn’s family and friends, and hiking. Hugh and Marilyn have a son who is an organic chemist and a daughter who is a geologist.
Phone: (801) 538-7436
Diane Menuz is the State Wetland Coordinator and a Wetland Ecologist with the Groundwater & Wetlands Program at the Utah Geological Survey, where she has worked since 2013. She has a B.S. from the University of California, Santa Cruz, and a M.S. from Utah State University, both in ecology. She coordinates wetland research at the UGS, including wetland field assessments, wetland mapping, and outreach to government agencies and the public. In her free time, Diane enjoys hiking, rock climbing, canyoneering, and other adventures with her husband, daughter, and German wirehaired pointer, Abby.
Becka Downard is a Wetland Ecologist for the Groundwater & Wetlands Program. Before joining the UGS, she was the wetland coordinator for the Utah Division of Water Quality. She received a Ph.D. in ecology from Utah State University in 2017 studying the impacts of impounded wetland management on wetland health around Great Salt Lake. She received her M.S. degree in human dimensions of ecosystem science and management from USU as well, researching strategies for acquiring water for wetlands. She enjoys looking at plants, riding bikes, climbing rocks, and adventuring with her dog, Pippa.
Greg Gavin is a Geologist and Hydrogeologist with the Groundwater & Wetlands Program at the Utah Geological Survey. He has a B.S. in environmental geoscience and graduate studies in hydrology and water resources from The University of Utah College of Mines and Earth. He spent several years in consulting working on projects throughout the intermountain west focused on ground and surface water quality, hydrology, and water-well drilling before joining the UGS in May 2022. Greg is passionate about tying together the threads of land use, hydrogeology, and water resources. His work with the UGS focuses on surface hydrology and groundwater issues, including water budgets, hydrogeologic characterization, and monitoring hydrologic effects of large-scale watershed restoration projects. In his free time Greg also volunteers with the Utah Geological Association helping to site, design, and install new geological interpretive signage throughout Utah.
Phone: (801) 537-3130
Pete Goodwin is a Wetland Ecologist with the Groundwater & Wetlands Program at the Utah Geological Survey. He rejoined the UGS in February 2019 following a 2014 seasonal internship having spent the intervening years working as an environmental consultant specializing in botanical inventories, aquatic resource delineations, and permitting documentation. When not actively mapping wetlands, Pete can most likely be found running, climbing, or skiing somewhere in the Wasatch.
Phone: (801) 537-3361
Online Textbook: http://opengeology.org/textbook/
Paul Inkenbrandt has been a Senior Geologist and hydrogeologist with the Utah Geological Survey since September 2009. He has a M.S. in geology from Utah State University and a B.S. from the University of Southern Indiana. Paul is experienced in database management, geographic information systems, and Python scripting. He also teaches introductory geology at Salt Lake Community College. In his personal time, he is actively involved in the Utah Geological Association, maintains his vegetable garden, and spends time with his family.
- SS-150, 2014, Investigation of land subsidence and earth fissures in Cedar Valley, Iron County, Utah (https://ugspub.nr.utah.gov/publications/special_studies/ss-150.pdf)
- SS-154, 2015, Baseline hydrology of Ashley Spring (https://ugspub.nr.utah.gov/publications/special_studies/ss-154.pdf)
- SS-156, 2016, Hydrogeology of the Powder Mountain area, Weber and Cache Counties, Utah (https://ugspub.nr.utah.gov/publications/special_studies/ss-156/ss-156.pdf)
- RI-275, 2016, Aquifer Storage and recovery in Millville, Cache County, Utah (https://ugspub.nr.utah.gov/publications/reports_of_investigations/ri-275.pdf)
Emily Jainarain is a Geologist with the Groundwater & Wetlands Program at the Utah Geological Survey. She has a B.S. in geology from the University of South Florida and a M.S. in watershed sciences from Utah State University. The first years of her career were spent as a geotechnical field technician in Seattle, Washington, where she inspected drilling at construction sites for compliance with geotechnical project plans. She moved to Utah in 2021 and spent two years researching nitrogen cycling in littoral sediments for the Utah Lake Water Quality Study. She joined the UGS in 2023 and her work involves designing and developing content for a groundwater dashboard, and assisting with field work, data processing, and data interpretation. In her free time, she enjoys climbing, biking, and exploring in the mountains.
J. Lucy Jordan
Phone: (801) 537-3347
J. Lucy Jordan is a Senior Geologist and hydrogeologist in the Groundwater & Wetlands Program at the UGS. She has a B.S. degree in geology from North Dakota State University and a M.S. in geology from the University of Montana. Lucy has 28 years of experience in groundwater investigations in Utah, Montana, and Colorado. She worked on groundwater contamination from copper mining and hydrocarbon extraction in the consulting sector before joining UGS in 2004. Lucy’s work with UGS has focused on water-resource assessments in Utah, including water-quality studies, aquifer testing, well drilling, spring and wetland inventories, and nitrate- and salinity-compromised groundwater systems. She is currently managing a real-time surface-water flow monitoring program in Snake Valley, western Utah and the surface-water components of multiple watershed restoration projects. Lucy is a member of the Utah Geological Association and a licensed Professional Geologist in the State of Utah.
Kathryn Ladig is a licensed Project Geologist who joined the UGS Groundwater & Wetlands Program as a Geologist in 2021. She received a B.A. in geology and environmental studies from Gustavus Adolphus College and a M.S. in earth science from the University of Maine. She has had the opportunity to study geomorphology in New Zealand, Mongolia, Alaska, Washington, Minnesota, Maine, Colorado, and Utah. Prior to working at the UGS, Kathryn was employed by the National Park Service to examine water quality of lakes and streams, calculate glacier mass-balance, mitigate geologic hazards, maintain weather stations, and map surficial geology. Her passions lie in tracking the impact of climatic variability through both proxy and direct observation. Her current projects include studying evapotranspiration through eddy covariance, logging water-well cuttings, and water-budget analyses.
Grant Mauk is a Wetland Technician for the Groundwater & Wetland Program at the UGS. His role at the Survey includes working on wetland mapping and assisting in studying the playa/groundwater features of Great Salt Lake. He grew up all over the Southwest and resided in Albuquerque, New Mexico, before coming to Utah to study at Utah State University. This fall he will be graduating with a B.S. in natural resources.
Rebecca Molinari is a GIS Analyst for the Groundwater & Wetlands Program at the Utah Geological Survey. She earned a M.S. degree in Environmental Science from Brigham Young University in 2019. She joined the UGS in 2020 after an internship with the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center. She loves botany, coding, and anything related to GIS. Her work focuses on wetland mapping and analyzing spatiotemporal trends of vegetation and surface water across Utah. In her free time she enjoys reading, hiking, hammocking, and spending time with her family.
Phone: (801) 537-3335
Trevor Schlossnagle is a Project Geologist and hydrogeologist with the Groundwater Program at the Utah Geological Survey. He has a B.S. in environmental science from SUNY College of Environmental Science & Forestry and studied hydrology at New Mexico Tech. He spent several years in consulting, working on Department of Defense groundwater contamination projects, before joining the UGS in July 2018. Trevor’s work with UGS has focused on applying geochemistry to groundwater issues, including water budgets, hydrogeologic characterization, and monitoring hydrologic effects of large-scale watershed restoration projects.
Claire Spangenberg Kellner
Claire Spangenberg Kellner is a Geologist with the Groundwater & Wetlands Program at the Utah Geological Survey. She earned a B.S. in environmental geoscience from the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota. She joined the UGS in spring of 2021 after spending the first years of her career conducting field work and hydrogeologic projects at Grand Canyon National Park’s Division of Science and Resource Management and at the Minnesota Department of Transportation. At the UGS she contributes to monitoring efforts for a variety of environmental restoration projects focusing on pinyon-juniper clearing and beaver dam analogues. She also works on implementing a monitoring program and water budget analysis for the Great Salt Lake Shoreland Preserve. Originally from Duluth, Minnesota, Claire moved to Utah in August 2020 and has been enjoying all the outdoor recreation that the state has to offer. On the weekends you can find her baking, hiking with her dog, or trying to find some open water for paddle boarding.
Elisabeth Stimmel is a Wetland Technician with the Groundwater & Wetlands Program at the Utah Geological Survey. She received a B.S. in wildlife ecology & management in 2017 and a M.S. in forest ecology & management with a focus on wetlands in 2020 from Michigan Technological University. She came to Utah during the summer of 2020 and has since worked for the Utah Geological Survey and the Utah Division of Water Quality helping with botany identification for wetland surveys including the Utah Rapid Assessment Protocol and the National Wetland Condition Assessment. Her work now focuses on mapping wetlands in Utah using GIS.
Phone: (801) 537-3387
Janae Wallace is a Senior Scientist in the Groundwater & Wetlands Program and has been with the Utah Geological Survey since 1996. She has a B.S. degree from the University of Utah and M.S. degree from Northern Arizona University. Her projects involve groundwater quality, especially groundwater quality classifications, nitrate studies, septic-tank density analysis, aquifer storage and recovery projects, and currently watershed restorative initiative projects working in concert with sister agencies in the Utah Department of Natural Resources and Utah Department of Environmental Quality.
Kiersten Winwood is a GIS Analyst for the Groundwater & Wetlands Program at the Utah Geological Survey. She earned a B.S. degree in watershed and Earth systems, with a minor in Geographic Information Sciences, from Utah State University in 2019. She joined the UGS in the spring of 2023 after working for the Utah Division of Water Rights. Originally from Utah, Kiersten is passionate about implementing GIS tools in research and conservation efforts surrounding our water resources in the state. In her free time she enjoys cooking, reading, spending time with her family, and hiking in the nearby mountains.