Becka Downard

Wetland Coordinator

Utah Division of Water Quality


Becka Downard has been the Wetland Coordinator for the Utah Division of Water Quality since 2016. Currently that work involves helping to develop water quality standards for the wetlands around Great Salt Lake. She received a PhD in Ecology from Utah State University, where she spent 5 years studying the impacts of impounded wetland management on wetland health around Great Salt Lake. She received her Master's degree in Human Dimensions of Ecosystem Science and Management from USU as well, researching strategies for acquiring water for wetlands. She received a Bachelor's degree from Weber State University in Zoology. 

Title: What Should the Water Quality Goals for Great Salt Lake Wetlands Be?

Friday, May 11th, 3:00 PM

Abstract: UDWQ has been working to develop water quality standards for wetlands of Great Salt Lake. To do this we need to define a beneficial use that captures the most important and sensitive parts of the wetland ecosystem and a narrative standard that effectively protects that use. Determining the appropriate water quality criteria for any wetland is difficult because water quality changes naturally throughout the year, which makes it challenging to detect impairment caused by human activities. Great Salt Lake wetlands are even more challenging to protect because of complex environmental gradients, extensive management activities, and complicated water sources. UDWQ is conducting Conservation Action Planning (CAP) meetings to draw on the knowledge of a wide variety of experts that can help us understand the most important characteristics of our wetlands, the best indicators of wetland health, threats to wetlands, and strategies for protecting them. (In CAP terminology: Key Ecological Attributes, Indicators and Ratings, Stresses and Sources, and Strategies.) We hope we can use these meetings to build on previous research and local knowledge in order to effectively protect the water quality of these globally important wetlands and the health of the Great Salt Lake ecosystem.


Why We Care

  • The Great Salt Lake has a unique character and, when one becomes acquainted with her, a well-developed personality. She moves and has moods, she sleeps and she wakes. Like any new friend, one can become attached quickly, but will need an entire lifetime to come to know her intimately.

    Rob Kent de Grey, Alfred Lambourne Prize Participant