Southern Sacramento Mountains
The goals of this study were to delineate areas of groundwater recharge, determine directions and rates of groundwater movement, and better understand the interactions between different aquifers and between the groundwater and surface water systems. Data collected from 2005 to 2009 include geologic mapping, frequent water level measurements in wells, single time and repeated well and spring sampling, precipitation measurement and sampling, fracture orientation measurements, and stream flow measurements. Findings include:
- Sacramento Mountains are the primary recharge area to the Pecos Slope and Roswell Artesian Basin
- Historically, snowmelt has been the dominant recharge, but extreme monsoons (i.e. more than ~7 inches in a few days) are also important for recharge
- Multiple, independent lines of evidence from geology, hydrology, and groundwater chemistry indicate that about 75% recharge occurs above 7800 ft elevation
- Little recharge occurs on Pecos Slope except along Rio Peñasco, except possibly during extreme monsoons
- Recharge in the Sacramento Mountain 88,131–171,066 acre-ft /year
- Groundwater ages vary from 15–25 years old in the high mountains region (recharge area) to ~1300 years old in the Pecos Slope region
Funding for this work came from the Otero Soil and Water Conservation District through legislative appropriation administered by the New Mexico State Department of Agriculture at New Mexico State University, Las Cruces, New Mexico. Additional funding for geologic mapping in the study area has been awarded through the National Cooperative Geologic Mapping Program (STATEMAP). Supplemental funding for the watershed study was provided by the New Mexico Interstate Stream Commission.
The Bureau of Geology thanks the many residents of the Sacramento Mountains who have granted access to their property and wells. These projects would not be possible without their kind cooperation.
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