Desalinated brackish water has been discussed in New Mexico as a possible alternative supply for drinking water. The communities of Tularosa and Alamogordo continue to explore using brackish water as a municipal water supply, and plans are quite advanced toward production. The communities in this region are actively seeking information to insure protection of fresh water supplies while implementing the use of alternate source water sources - brackish groundwater.
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.
Building on its basin-scale hydrogeologic studies of the Española Basin (2003-2010), in 2010-2013 the Aquifer Mapping Program helped develop a better understanding of the groundwater contribution to the wetlands around La Cienega. This work was completed with collaboration and support from NMED, NMOSE, Santa Fe County, and USF&WS.
The characterization of the Placitas area hydrology, located in the foothills of the northern Sandia Mountains, was an important step for water resource planning and development. Due to increased population and demand on groundwater supplies, with drought conditions in the mid-1990s, local water levels were declining. The Bureau of Geology initiated this study in 1997 to characterize the availability and quality of groundwater and surface water resources in the Placitas area.
The issues are a gap in regional scientific information for deep and shallow, sediment-volcanic aquifers and surface waters in the Questa area; including sustainable sources of drinking water, sources of water to springs and streams that feed fisheries and discharge to the Rio Grande, the character of natural, background water quality, and possible impacts from mine-related waters.
The Roswell Artesian Basin is located in the lower Pecos Valley of southeastern New Mexico, on the northern fringe of the Chihuahua Desert. Summers are long and hot and precipitation is sparse, averaging less than 15 inches/year. However, the Roswell Basin is also one of the most intensively farmed areas in the state, the principal crops being alfalfa, cotton, sorghum, chiles and pecans. The Basin derives virtually all of its irrigation water from groundwater stored in a shallow alluvial aquifer and an artesian aquifer formed principally in the San Andres limestone. The Roswell Artesian Basin has been described as a world-class example of a rechargeable artesian aquifer system.
The AMP has collaborated with Northeastern SWCD to characterize and map sources of groundwater in the Ogallala and deep bedrock aquifers in east-central Union County. Limited water resources from these border aquifers are supporting the Village of Clayton, as well as rural ranch communities and center-pivot agriculture in New Mexico, Texas and Oklahoma.
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.
This hydrology study of the White Sands dunes was initiated in 2010 to evaluate sources of recharge to the shallow aquifer within the sand dunes and its interconnection with the deep, regional aquifer. Results will provide vital information to help preserve and manage this unique natural resource under the pressures of population growth and climate change.