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.

Groundwater Projects

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:

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Wetlands Projects

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 dmenuz@utah.gov.

Highlighted Publications

Special Study 165

Characterization of the Groundwater System in Ogden Valley, Weber County, Utah, with Emphasis on Groundwater–Surface-Water Interaction and the Groundwater Budget

Report of Investigation 277

Validation of a Rapid Wetland Assessment Protocol for Utah: Evaluation of Survey Methods and Temporal and Observer Variability in Vegetation Data

Report of Investigation 278

Validation of a Rapid Wetland Assessment Protocol for Utah: Testing Inter-Observer and Intra-Season Variability

Groundwater & Wetlands Staff

Program Manager | Senior Scientist

Hugh Hurlow

Phone: (801) 537-3385
Email: hughhurlow@utah.gov

Hugh Hurlow is a hydrogeologist and the Program Manager for the Groundwater 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.

State Wetlands Coordinator

Diane Menuz

Phone: (801) 538-7436
Email: dmenuz@utah.gov

Diane Menuz is the State Wetland Coordinator and a wetland ecologist with the Groundwater 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.

Program Specialist

Peter Goodwin

Phone: (801) 537-3130
Email: pgoodwin@utah.gov

Pete Goodwin is a wetland mapper with the Groundwater 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.

Senior Geologist (Hydrogeology)

Paul Inkenbrandt

Phone: (801) 537-3361
Email: paulinkenbrandt@utah.gov
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/paul-inkenbrandt-0418b711/
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.

Senior Geologist (Hydrogeology)

J. Lucy Jordan

Phone: (801) 537-3347
Email: lucyjordan@utah.gov

J. Lucy Jordan is a Senior Geologist and hydrogeologist in the Groundwater 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 25 years of experience in groundwater investigations in Utah and Montana. She worked on groundwater contamination from copper mining in Butte, Montana and at Kennecott Utah Copper’s Bingham Canyon Mine in Utah. While employed in consulting, she worked on water-supply and protection projects in Utah for a decade prior to joining Utah Geological Survey 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. Lucy is a member of the National Ground Water Association and the Utah Geological Association, and is an officer of the local chapter of the Association for Women Geoscientists. Lucy is a licensed Professional Geologist in the State of Utah.

Senior Geologist (Hydrogeology + Geothermal)

Stefan Kirby

Phone: (801) 537-3349
Email: stefankirby@utah.gov

Stefan Kirby is a Senior Geologist and licensed Professional Geologist with the Groundwater Program of the Utah Geological Survey.  His work has included a broad range of topics that include geothermal projects, basin-scale groundwater studies and water budgets, local and regional geologic mapping in the eastern Great Basin, establishment of regional-scale groundwater level and groundwater quality monitoring networks, statistical analysis of basin-scale groundwater chemistry, aquifer testing, and drilling and completion of various types of groundwater monitoring wells.  Stefan received a M.S. in geology from Utah State University in 2005 and joined the UGS 2004.

GIS Analyst

Rebecca Lee

Email: rebeccailee@utah.gov

Wetland Ecologist

Miles McCoy-Sulentic

Phone: (801) 537-3345
Email: mmcoy-sulentic@utah.gov

Miles McCoy-Sulentic is a Wetland Ecologist with the Groundwater Program. He completed a M.S. degree at Northern Arizona University and joined the Utah Geological Survey in 2017.

Senior GIS Analyst

Nathan Payne

Phone: (801) 537-3391
Email: npayne@utah.gov

Nate Payne is a GIS Analyst with the Groundwater Program at the Utah Geological Survey. He graduated with a B.S. degree in geography from Utah State University and joined the UGS in April 2014. When he is not making maps or analyzing groundwater data, Nate enjoys hiking, fly-fishing, flying drones, and exploring the backcountry of the Intermountain West.

Geologist (Hydrogeology)

Trevor Schlossnagle

Phone: (801) 537-3335
Email: tschlossnagle@utah.gov

Trevor Schlossnagle is a 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.

Senior Geologist (Water Quality Specialist)

Janae Wallace

Phone: (801) 537-3387
Email: janaewallace@utah.gov

Janae Wallace is a Senior Geologist in the Groundwater 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.