skip all navigation
skip banner links
skip primary navigation

Funding granted to map optimal areas for artificial recharge in the Albuquerque area

related image
River sands and gravels laid down by the Rio Grande millions of years ago make a productive aquifer. Our mapping of optimal areas for artificial recharge would consider where these sands lie in the subsurface and the depths that these sands are saturated. This photograph shows how Rio Grande sands and gravel appear in outcrop (taken near Placitas).
2018 Dan Koning

Bernalillo County, NM
— November 26, 2018

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 ABCWUA hopes to do more MAR in the near future. This agency has recently given the New Mexico Bureau of Geology $39,500 to make two color-coded maps showing optimal areas for MAR for deep-injection recharge and near-surface recharge. These maps would be produced using Geographic Information Systems (GIS) geoprocessing tools, such as the weighted overlay method, and considers such criteria as geologic and hydraulic properties of the aquifer and overlying unsaturated zone, depth-to-groundwater, and the potential of hydrocompaction of surficial sediment.

This work will be done by NMBGMR scientists: Dan Koning (P.I.), Colin Cikoski, Andy Jochems, and Alex Rinehart. It is being funded by the ABCWUA.