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Open-file Report - 562
Northeastern Tularosa Basin regional hydrogeology study, New Mexico

Ethan A. Mamer, Talon B. Newton, Koning, Daniel J., Timmons, Stacy S., and Shari A. Kelley

2014

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This report presents the results of a hydrogeologic investigation along the western Sacramento Mountains and the northeastern region of the Tularosa Basin. The principal objective of this study is to develop a better understanding of the water chemistry, physical hydrology and geologic framework that controls the occurrence and movement of groundwater in the region. Numerous small, rural population centers, including Carrizozo, Nogal, Oscuro, Three Rivers, Tularosa, and La Luz, are located in the study area. These communities rely on high elevation watersheds in the Sacramento Mountains that serve as sources of recharge to local aquifers. These high elevation watersheds also feed the stream systems that drain into the Tularosa Basin. In recent years, water managers and users across the region have observed changes in precipitation patterns, climate variability, and declines in water levels and spring flow. In response to these stresses on the hydrologic system related to population growth, economic development, and water use changes, water resource managers are interested in understanding their groundwater system better, allowing them to make informed decisions regarding land and water resource management.

Hydrologic study of the Tularosa Basin dates back to the early 1900s based on work by Meinzer and Hare (1915). This initial research, as well as more recent studies conducted in the past 50 years, has emphasized the role that precipitation, which falls on the adjacent Sacramento Mountains, plays on recharge entering the Tularosa Basin. Although the present study focuses primarily on the northeastern region of the Tularosa Basin, it adds to the understanding of the regional hydrogeology and provides evidence of the importance of high mountain precipitation in recharging adjacent regional aquifers. The results of this work includes identification of recharge areas, quantification of recharge to groundwater, determination of groundwater flow directions and flow rates, and it furthers the understanding of groundwater/ surface water interactions in this area.

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