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Middle Rio Grande Aquifer Storage and Recovery

Draft analysis of site suitability for aquifer storage and recovery. Depth to water is often a limiting factor in site suitability.
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The Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District (MRGCD) is exploring options for aquifer storage and recovery in the Middle Rio Grande Valley (MRGV) and approached the New Mexico Bureau of Geology and Mineral Resources (NMBGMR) for assistance in reviewing potential sites. Aquifer storage and recovery (ASR) is the process by which surface water is stored underground in natural formations that can retain water for future recovery and use. Agriculture in the MRGV relies predominantly on surface water diversions and flood irrigation, apart from some groundwater pumping in Valencia and Socorro County. MRGCD is responsible for delivering much of the irrigation water that is used on an annual basis in the MRGV. The MRGCD is looking for alternatives to traditional water management and delivery that will allow them greater ability to provide water to their customers, especially in dry years. Specifically, the MRGCD is interested in determining if there are sites feasible for ASR within their MRGV service area.

Aquifer storage and recovery is commonly more economical than building above-ground storage facilities and minimizes water loss due to evaporation. However, care must be taken to select sites that have favorable parameters. These parameters include 1) adequate permeability to transmit and store inputted water; 2) a water table that is not too deep, so that extracting the water via pumping is not overly expensive; 3) the potential for mounding of shallow groundwater is minimized; and 4) the inputted (recharged) groundwater flows in the desired direction, so that it can stay in the MRGCD boundaries and be recovered effectively. Groundwater mounding is promoted when the groundwater table is relatively high and the sedimentary substrate having relatively lower permeability. This project is a preliminary assessment of ASR sites using a scoring scheme incorporating the aforementioned parameters, and possible next steps for future studies.


Koning, D., Sturgis, L., Lavery, D., and Mamer, E., 2024, Aquifer storage and recovery feasibility analysis for Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District: New Mexico Bureau of Geology and Mineral Resources Open-File Report 631, 40 p.

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