Characterizing Water-Related Land Uses Across Urban River Reaches

Dusty Pilkington



Dusty Joel Pilkington

(iUtah EPSCOR, Faculty Mentors : Douglas Jackson-Smith, Joanna Endter-Wada)

Utah State University Department of Environment and Society

Research Location: Geospatial Lab, Utah State University,

0730 Old Main Hill
Logan, UT 84322-0730


Boundaries dividing political authority rarely match natural water flow. Multiple agencies, often with competing agendas and policies, manage water within single watersheds. This discrepancy can render management efforts ineffective. Comparisons between natural watersheds and human political geography are therefore necessary. As part of a statewide, multidisciplinary water sustainability project titled iUtah, three series of environmental monitoring sites are planned. The sites run across reaches of the Logan, Red Butte Creek, and Provo Rivers in Utah. Here, water-related land use data acquired from Utah's Automated Geographic Resource Center are analyzed using ArcGIS geoproceessing tools. Land uses contributing to water quality in urban areas along each of the rivers are described. Spatial distributions of land use were examined using three different boundary sets, comparing the political geography of the river reaches to their physical geography, as depicted in United States Geologic Survey Hydrologic Unit Code (HUC) watersheds. Land use mixes using political infrastructure were contrasted with land use mixes derived from HUC boundaries. All land uses were classified in seven categories: residential, commercial/industrial, riparian/ water features, irrigated agriculture, non-irrigated agriculture, farmsteads, and parks/open spaces. A gradient from rural Heber, to urbanizing Logan, to fully urbanized Red Butte Creek is shown. Land use mixes vary between rivers and between boundary sets, primarily in percentages of residential land use and irrigated agriculture. Differing land use mixes emerge depending upon the boundary set used, with the nature of those differences varying from river to river. Irrigated agriculture, residential, and commercial/industrial land uses varied between natural and political watersheds. For example, while Red Butte Creek HUC boundaries showed 53.8 % residential land use, Red Butte Creek municipal boundaries and community providers totaled 26 % and 39 % residential use, respectively. The most striking differences emerged when irrigated agriculture was assessed using HUC boundaries. Irrigated agriculture totaled 0.2 % in in Red Butte Creek, with Logan showing 29. 7%, and Heber irrigated agriculture sitting at 41.1 %. Comparative data sets are now available to agencies from divided jurisdictions within Utah watersheds.

Home Institution: Weber State University

3848 Harrison Boulevard, Ogden, UT



GIS, Land Use, Water

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