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Open-file Report - 600
La Cienega Groundwater Level Monitoring, Santa Fe County, New Mexico: 2017 Summary of Findings

Ethan Mamer and Stacy Timmons



As a follow up to hydrogeologic research performed by the New Mexico Bureau of Geology and Mineral Resources in recent years (summarized in Johnson, et al., 2016), a groundwater monitoring network was implemented around La Cienega, Santa Fe County, New Mexico. The primary aquifer in La Cienega is within the Ancha Formation, overlying the Tesuque Formation. The Ancha Formation aquifer exists as buried valleys of coarse sediments that are highly transmissive (Figure 1). Figure 2 shows the locations of the wells in the monitoring network and the formation in which the wells are completed.

Previous hydrogeologic research by Johnson, et al. (2016) indicates that the groundwater in this region is highly susceptible to regional influences such as pumping, drought, and land use changes. The groundwater levels in many wells in the primary aquifer around La Cienega have steadily dropped since the 1970s (Figure 3). Smaller oscillations of higher winter groundwater levels and lower summer groundwater levels are superimposed on the overall downward trend.

Groundwater level monitoring provides an essential tool in groundwater management. The data are used in development of more accurate groundwater models, and can help with protection of groundwater resources. Measurements of changing groundwater levels also directly reflect changes in groundwater storage.

This report is a brief summary of 2017 groundwater level monitoring activities in La Cienega. The twice annual set of measurements was also incorporated into broader long-term monitoring that began in 2015 as an effort to monitor the potential changes and impacts to this region.

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