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Research — Water Resources

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There are 10 projects that match your criteria:
Hydrogeology of the Española Basin & Santa Fe Area
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The southern Española Basin, in the Santa Fe region, was the focus of a multi-year, multi-disciplinary hydrogeologic study by the Aquifer Mapping Program, in collaboration with the New Mexico Office of the State Engineer (NMOSE), the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and other agencies. The purpose of this study was to improve the understanding of the water resources within the basin, which serves as the primary source of drinking water for most of the area’s population.

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Hydrologic Assessment of the San Juan Basin
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The San Juan Basin, an important source of oil and gas located in northwestern New Mexico, has recently experienced renewed production from the Cretaceous Mancos Shale through the use of horizontal drilling and hydrofracturing. The Bureau of Land Management commissioned this study of the possible impacts of new exploration and development of this resource on the land surface and on the groundwater supply.

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Water Data Act
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The Water Data Act (NMSA 1978, § 72-4B) marks the first time in New Mexico’s history that a law has been enacted to identify and integrate key water data. In response to this 2019 legislation, the directing agencies including NM ISC, NM OSE, NMED, and EMNRD, as convened by the NMBGMR, are working toward developing an integrated Water Data Service for New Mexico. Multiple working groups have been convened, working to ensure that the data and useful information about the data is findable, accessible, interoperable, and usable for those seeking water information for decision making related to water management and planning – the primary goal of the legislation. The initial data platform can be found at newmexicowaterdata.org as a first data inventory step for this multi-year project.

Project lead: Stacy Timmons

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Overview of Fresh and Brackish Water Quality - Capitan Reef
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The Capitan Reef is a fossil limestone reef of middle Permian age that is dramatically exposed along the southeast flank of the Guadalupe Mountains in Eddy County, New Mexico, reaching its maximum elevation in west Texas, in Guadalupe Mountains National Park. In New Mexico, the reef serves as the host rock for the Big Room in Carlsbad Cavern. A few miles northeast of Carlsbad Caverns National Park, the reef dips into the subsurface and passes beneath the city of Carlsbad, where it forms a karstic aquifer that is the principal source of fresh water for that community (Land and Burger, 2008). The Capitan Reef continues in the subsurface east and south into Lea County, then south for ~150 miles to its southeasternmost outcrop in the Glass Mountains of west Texas.

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Mapping suitability for Managed Aquifer Recharge (MAR) in the Albuquerque Basin
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An aquifer can be considered like a bank account. The deposits or credits typically consist of natural recharge adding water to the aquifer (like precipitation or river water seeping into the ground and reaching the groundwater table). Withdrawals take water out of the aquifer, and can include discharge into rivers or pumping of wells. Most cities are concerned with the withdrawal side of the equation and hope nature takes care of the deposits. But Albuquerque has undertaken the progressive measure of inputting additional recharge (deposits) now so there will be sufficient water for future withdrawals, something called managed aquifer recharge (MAR). To that end, the Albuquerque and Bernalillo County Water Utility Authority (ABCWUA) has recently completed a well for deep injection of excess river water into the aquifer, and is currently running surface water down the upper part of Bear Canyon Arroyo for near-surface recharge.

The work is funded by the ABCWUA and conducted by Dan Koning (P.I.), Colin Cikoski, Andy Jochems, and Alex Rinehart (now at NMT EES). The results have been released as Open-file Report 605 and as a summary Fact Sheet.

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Hydrogeology of the Cuatrociénegas Gypsum Dune Field, Coahuila, Mexico
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The gypsum dune deposits found at Cuatrociénegas and White Sands National Monument are two of only a handful of gypsum dune fields in the world. These surreal landscapes provide beautiful views and outdoor activities for tourists and serve as natural laboratories where researchers can study a variety of topics ranging from geology to evolutionary biology. Combined, both Cuatrociénegas and White Sands National Monument are home to more than 110 endemic species, specially adapted to the unique and fragile ecosystems of these gypsum rich environments.

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Overview of Fresh and Brackish Water Quality - San Juan Basin
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The San Juan Basin is a large structural basin in northwestern New Mexico that formed during the late Cretaceous-Paleogene Laramide orogeny about 75 million years ago. The basin comprises all or parts of San Juan, McKinley, Rio Arriba, and Sandoval Counties, with a northern portion that extends into southwestern Colorado. The basin is bordered by basement-cored Laramide highlands, including the Nacimiento Uplift to the east, the Zuni Mountains to the south, the Defiance uplift to the west, and the San Juan Mountains in Colorado to the north. Laramide-age monoclines form the remaining boundaries of the basin (Kelley et al., 2014). The San Juan Basin region is a major producer of hydrocarbons, primarily natural gas, and extensive studies of the petroleum geology of the region have been conducted over the past several decades. Basin-wide hydrogeological assessments of the San Juan Basin were conducted by Stone et al. (1983), Craigg et al. (1989; 1990), Kaiser et al. (1994), Kernodle (1996), and Levings et al. (1996). Kelley et al. (2014) conducted a thorough hydrologic assessment of oil and gas resource development of the Mancos Shale in the San Juan Basin, which includes detailed discussions of groundwater salinity in the basin by depth and individual aquifers.

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Lifetime projections for the High Plains Aquifer in east-central New Mexico
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Several thousand water-level measurements spanning over 50 years, from over a thousand wells, were used to create aquifer lifetime projections for the High Plains aquifer in eastcentral New Mexico. Lifetime projections were made based on past water-level decline rates calculated over ten- and twenty-year intervals. Projected lifetimes were calculated for two scenarios. One scenario is the time until total dewatering of the full saturated thickness of the aquifer, and the other scenario is the time until a 30-ft saturated thickness threshold is reached, which is the minimum necessary to sustain high-capacity irrigation wells. Agricultural water use has largely determined water-level decline rates in the past. Assuming future decline rates match those of the past ten to twenty years, the two scenarios may be viewed as the usable aquifer lifetime for domestic and low-intensity municipal and industrial uses, and the usable lifetime for large-scale irrigated agriculture.

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High Plains Aquifer Monitoring
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The NMBGMR is working with the Ogallala Land & Water Conservancy to measure water levels in the High Plains Aquifer system near Clovis, New Mexico.

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Hydrogeologic investigation of the Arroyo Hondo Area, Taos County, New Mexico
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The Arroyo Hondo ground water study reveals a complex, three-dimensional ground water system with multiple hydrostratigraphic units and aquifers. Distribution of the geologic and hydrostratigraphic units is presented through geologic maps and seven detailed cross sections that depict the distribution of geologic and hydrostratigraphic units, well data, surface water features, water levels, faults, and zones of fracturing and sediment layers in volcanic rocks. Cross sections are constructed both parallel and perpendicular to regional ground water flow and illustrate aquifers in the context of the geologic framework, the Rio Grande and the Rio Hondo, local acequias and other surface water features.

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