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Springs and Wetlands at La Cienega

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Hydrogeologic setting for groundwater-fed wetlands at La Cienega, shown in a west-to-east cross section of the Santa Fe embayment. Groundwater flows west and circulates to various depths within the Tesuque Formation (part of the Santa Fe Group aquifer).

— January 11, 2018

The bureau has been involved in a comprehensive study of the geohydrology of the wetlands in the vicinity of La Cienega, south of Santa Fe, since 2011. These springs and wetlands occur where local groundwater flows intersect the surface. They provide an important source of water for domestic and agricultural use as well as wildlife. The broad goals of the study were to understand the groundwater resources that sustain these wetlands. More specific goals addressed with collaborating agencies included developing strategies to restore springs and wetlands that have already been impacted by local urban development, and to assure the future and sustainability of these important resources. The study revealed a complex, 3-dimensional groundwater system. Groundwater flow from the Santa Fe Group regional aquifer sustains these wetlands. These groundwater flows are susceptible to increased groundwater withdrawals and to seasonal fluctuations, and a majority of the wells in the study have shown a persistent decline in water levels in the last decade. This study has redefined the shallow aquifer in the Santa Fe region, and has much broader implications for that part of the state.

This study produced:
Bulletin-161 — Geology and Hydrology of Groundwater-Fed Springs and Wetlands at La Cienega, Santa Fe County, New Mexico, by Peggy S. Johnson, Daniel J. Koning, Stacy S. Timmons, and Brigitte Felix, 2016, which won the AASG/GSA John C. Frye Memorial Environmental Geology Award for 2016.

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