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Bureau secures USGS grant to help fund Groundwater Monitoring Network

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Graph from the National Ground-Water Monitoring Network showing measured depth to water in a well in Socorro County.

New Mexico
— March 20, 2020

The Bureau of Geology received a grant from the United States Geological Survey (USGS) to continue providing data to the National Ground-Water Monitoring Network. This is the fourth year the Bureau has received this award.

The Bureau operates the statewide Collaborative Groundwater Monitoring Network that monitors water levels in participating wells, particularly targeting rural and under-monitored areas. With this grant, the Bureau is able to collect data with the statewide network and make it publicly-available on the national network hosted by the USGS.

Well level data is used to monitor how much water is in a well, track water level trends over time, make pumping decisions, protect and manage a well’s associated water source, identify influences on water supply like local water use, and identify faulty equipment and leaks.

“Monitoring groundwater levels at regular intervals over a long period of time lets you understand the direct local impacts to your water supply from things like drought, changes in land use, and increased or decreased pumping by neighbors,” says Aquifer Mapping Program Manager Laila Sturgis, “It’s also extremely helpful for the day-to-day running of the well, such as correctly setting the pump depth and run time, and catching leaks in the system.”

The Bureau has worked with small communities like Magdalena and Willard, and larger rural communities like Clovis to monitor well levels.

Many rural communities rely on small regional aquifers, and data on the conditions of these aquifers can be outdated at best or at such large scale they have insufficient local information. Having a clear understanding of the local hydrology with site specific data will help communities make informed water planning decisions.

“We continue to seek collaborative well owners and operators interested in working with us to share and collect groundwater level data around the state, especially in under-represented rural regions and in community water systems reliant on a single well,” says Stacy Timmons, Bureau Associate Director for Hydrogeology Programs.

For more information or to learn how your community can join the Collaborative Monitoring Network, visit the Bureau’s webpage, send an email to nmbg-waterlevels@nmt.edu or contact Laila Sturgis at laila.sturgis@nmt.edu.

The Bureau’s Collaborative Groundwater Monitoring Network is funded by the Healy Foundation and the Aquifer Mapping Program. This state funding is leveraged with a cooperative grant from the U.S. Geological Survey to share data to the National Ground-Water Monitoring Network.