Upper Lake Mary Watershed Monitoring Program

Overall Program

The Upper Lake Mary Watershed Monitoring Program is funded through a collaboration of partners that include the City of Flagstaff, National Park Services, and the Coconino National Forest. The City was recently awarded a grant from the National Park Service to assemble a baseline hydrology report to summarize data collected under the program and data available within the watershed. This report was completed as a draft in July 2022, and is available here for download.

Climate Monitoring

The Water Services Division is interested in snowpack and summer precipitation patterns. The graph below shows a shift from the historical annual rain-to-snow relationship. In the last 4 of 16 water years, our annual precipitation has gone from about 50%–70% rain to 80% rain, with only 20% of all precipitation falling as snow. Production staff has seen significant runoff into Upper Lake Mary when rain falls on the snowpack. A warming climate concerns many Southwestern water providers that rely on winter snowpack to recharge their surface supplies. Utilities will incorporate this and other climate scenario planning into its next Water Resources Master Plan.

Precipitation graphAnnual Average Graph

Flowtography & "Watching Our Watershed"

In 2015, the Water Services Division partnered with the Salt River Project (SRP) to provide ongoing operations, maintenance, and data collection for six Flowtography sites within the 4FRI (Four Forests Restoration Initiative) area of the Upper Lake Mary Watershed. The six sites were installed in November 2014. Two additional sites were installed in April 2017 at the Newman Canyon USGS gage site and Upper Lake Mary to monitor water levels. Flowtography uses a game camera mounted in a tree to take one photo every 15 minutes of a graduated rebar stake in the center of a channel. The channel has been surveyed for slope, cross-sectional area, and roughness such that flow can be calculated using the Manning’s equation. The height of water on the stream gage is recorded from photographs taken during flow events. The flow data will serve as a baseline for comparison with data collected after forest treatments. They will help us determine whether forest treatment and maintenance affect surface water runoff into Upper Lake Mary.

Fact sheet on the project (PDF)

Read an AZ Daily Sun Article about Flowtography.

Learn how Flagstaff uses Flowtography to preserve our water supply.

Time Lapse Videos of Monitoring Sites

  1. LM-2
  2. LM-3L
  3. Newman Canyon

LM-2 from December 1, 2016 - March 15, 2017

Newman Canyon LMwatersheds

The Water Services Division and two other groups — the Flagstaff Watershed Protection Plan Project and the Lake Mary Walnut Canyon Technical Advisory Committee — partnered with the U.S. Geological Survey to install a flow gage and sediment sampler in Newman Canyon in 2014. Newman Canyon is the largest single contributing tributary to Upper Lake Mary. The image on the right displays:

  • Sub-watersheds of the Walnut Creek Watershed
  • Watersheds that are part of the Upper Lake Mary Watershed Monitoring Project and NAU Paired Watershed Study
  • USGS Newman Canyon Gage and Sediment Sampler

View sediment data from the first year | View stream gage data from the first year 

Collected information Newman 1_thumb_thumb_thumb.png

Info Collected Newman 2_thumb.png

Mouth of Newman Canyon, Upper Lake Mary

Mouth of Newman Canyon_thumb.png

Water frozen at the site of the stream gage

Water frozen Newman_thumb.png

Aerial view of Newman Canyon

Downstream Arial_thumb.png