Periods of population influxes during winter recreation occur simultaneously with periods of extreme low flow in many Rocky Mountain areas. The ability of streams to assimilate additional nutrient loading is reduced by the low-flow conditions. Low-flow water-quality characteristics of the Slate and East Rivers which drain the Crested Butte area were investigated in December 1996. Six sites were chosen for evaluation four on the Slate River and two on the East River to assess water-quality conditions including nutrient (nitrogen and phosphorus) concentrations and algal biomass during a 24-hour period. Discharge in the Slate River ranged from about 18 to 30 cubic feet per second and discharge in the East River downstream from the mouth of the Slate River was about 80 cubic feet per second. Chemical concentrations in water in the Slate and East Rivers generally were dilute with specific-conductance values of 175 to 300 microsiemens per centimeter and alkalinity values of 40 to 110) milligrams per liter during low-flow conditions.