USGS - science for a changing world

New Mexico Water Science Center

Home iconhome Info iconinformation/data Projects iconprojects Publications iconpublications Drought icondrought Flood iconflood NAWQA iconNAWQA FAQ iconfaq Education iconeducation Contact iconcontact
Picture of FAQ sign.

CURRENT CONDITIONS

Current streamflow conditions in New Mexico.
Current streamflow conditions map.
View a detailed map.

DATA CENTER

USGS IN YOUR STATE

USGS Water Science Centers are located in each state.

There is a USGS Water Science Center office in each State. Washington Oregon California Idaho Nevada Montana Wyoming Utah Colorado Arizona New Mexico North Dakota South Dakota Nebraska Kansas Oklahoma Texas Minnesota Iowa Missouri Arkansas Louisiana Wisconsin Illinois Mississippi Michigan Indiana Ohio Kentucky Tennessee Alabama Pennsylvania West Virginia Georgia Florida Caribbean Alaska Hawaii New York Vermont New Hampshire Maine Massachusetts South Carolina North Carolina Rhode Island Virginia Connecticut New Jersey Maryland-Delaware-D.C.

FAQ - New Mexico Water Science Center

  • How do I get a record of gage heights and other unit data older than 31 days?
  • What do the flags and remarks mean in your tab-separated unit-data retrievals?
  • Can I obtain a stage-discharge rating for a particular streamgage site?
  • How do I find the location of a USGS streamgage in New Mexico?
  • Why has streamflow been discontinued at some streamgages but gage heights (stages) are still reported
  • How do I find flood stage for a particular place on a New Mexico stream?
  • What are gage datums, and why do they have different references among the New Mexico stations?
  • How do I find . . .
       -the magnitude and frequency of a particular flood?
       -low-flow and other types of flow statistics?
       -drainage area for a particular place on a stream?
  • How do I find the highest measured water level (gage height, or stage) at a particular New Mexico streamgage site?
  • How do I get flood maps or 100-year flood heights for my neighborhood?
  • How often do your real-time stations update? Some seem to take several hours even though the data are reported for much shorter intervals.
  • How/where can I get USGS publications, including those that the New Mexico Water Science Center has produced?
  • How/where can I get hardcopy and digital topographic maps?
  • How/where can I get hydrologic GIS datasets?
  • How/where can I get aerial/satellite photos of New Mexico and other places?
  • Where can I get current data for lakes and reservoirs and find out about reservoir releases?
  • Can I request to have a temperature reported for a streamgage site where temperature isn't measured now?
  • How do I obtain streamflow information for fishing at a particular site?
  • How do I obtain streamflow information for kayaking or canoeing at a particular site?
  • Where do I find information on USGS bench marks? For instance, if I need to get an elevation or want to report a bench mark that's been destroyed or that needs to be moved?
  • Is your drinking water safe?
  • How deep is groundwater in my area?
  • Does the USGS provide information through any social media venues?

    How do I get a record of gage heights and other unit data older than 31 days?

    Currently, the only way to gage-height and unit water-quality data is by special request. Use this link to send a message to our information team, and be sure to specify exactly what kind of data and what period of time you’re interested in.

    Instantaneous unit streamflow data can be obtained from the Instantaneous Data Archive, or IDA. This repository contains only unit streamflow data and only data that have been approved as final.


    What do the flags and remarks mean in your tab-separated unit-data retrievals?

    Click here to get an explanatory list of these symbols.

    Can I obtain a stage-discharge rating for a particular streamgage site?

    You can obtain a shift-adjusted rating table if streamflow (discharge) is currently being computed at the site, by entering a URL of the following form in your browser’s address bar:

    http://waterdata.usgs.gov/nwisweb/data/exsa_rat/XXXXXXXX.rdb
    where XXXXXXX should be replaced by the site number.

    If the streamgage is a stage-only site, no valid or current rating exists.


    How do I find the location of a USGS streamgage in New Mexico?

    Go to the Real-Time Water Data area of  NWISWeb and use the map or the Statewide Streamflow Table to bring up the site record. If the narrative description on the real-time page is insufficient for your purposes, you can see a mapped view by selecting “Site Map” from the pick list under “Available data for this site.”


    Why has streamflow been discontinued at some streamgages but gage heights (stages) are still reported?

    Computation of streamflow is an expensive part of operating a streamgage because of the amount of fieldwork, record editing, and record review involved. If funding for a particular streamflow site cannot be maintained at a sufficient level, we sometimes need to downgrade a station to stage only. For some stations, gage height is the issue of interest, not streamflow, so those streamgages may be established as stage only from the outset.


    How do I find flood stage for a particular place on a New Mexico stream?

    Flood levels are designated by the National Weather Service for their forecast sites and consequently are not defined for all of the stream gages that the USGS operates. If you are interested in flood and high-flow information, try this link.

    You can quickly determine where streamflows in New Mexico are high and water levels are above flood stage. If you use the mouse to move the pointer over one of the gage symbols, a small box is displayed that includes useful information including the station name and number, current gage height (stage), and flood stage (where defined). Flood stages are shown even when current stages and streamflows are low. Detailed information about floods and flood forecasts also can be obtained from the National Weather Service’s Advanced Hydrologic Prediction Service.


    What are gage datums, and why do they have different references among the New Mexico stations?

    Gage datum is a horizontal surface used as a zero point for measurement of stage or gage height. This surface usually is located slightly below the lowest point of the stream bottom such that the gage height is usually slightly greater than the maximum depth of water. Because the gage datum is not an actual physical object, the datum is usually defined by specifying the elevations of permanent reference marks such as bridge abutments and survey monuments, and the gage is set to agree with the reference marks. Gage datum is a local datum that is maintained independently of any national geodetic datum. However, if the elevation of the gage datum relative to the national datum (North American Vertical Datum of 1988 or National Geodetic Vertical Datum of 1912 or 1929) has been determined, then the gage readings can be converted to elevations above the national datum by adding the elevation of the gage datum to the gage reading.


    How do I find . . .

    -the magnitude and frequency of a particular flood?

    -low-flow and other types of flow statistics?

    -drainage area for a particular place on a stream?

    You can find answers to all these questions by use of the StreamStats application. (note that the New Mexico application is currently undergoing implementation.) Published USGS reports are also available:
    Analysis of the Magnitude and Frequency of Peak Discharge and Maximum Observed Peak Discharge in New Mexico and Surrounding Areas


    How do I find the highest measured water level (gage height, or stage) at a particular New Mexico streamgage site?

    Go to the NWISWeb surface-water area for New Mexico and select “Peak-flow Data” from the menu options. The “Table” output format will list gage heights as well as measured annual peak flows.


    How do I get flood maps or 100-year flood heights for my neighborhood?

    The FEMA Map Service Center is the principal source of these kinds of maps. You can even generate a customized map of your area (a Firmette) online. Additional information, including names of local flood administrators, can be obtained at: FEMA - New Mexico Severe Storms and Flooding.


    How often do your real-time stations update? Some seem to take several hours even though the data are reported for much shorter intervals.

    Data are transmitted from gage locations every 1 to 4 hours during normal operation, depending on the type of equipment at the station and the availability of communications-satellite channels for relay. As technology advances, we hope to reduce these delays. If a station hasn’t reported for a day or more, chances are that something is wrong somewhere in the chain of data transmission. Feel free to inform us of any apparent outages by emailing us.


    How/where can I get USGS publications, including those that the New Mexico Water Science Center has produced?

    The vast majority of USGS publications, including the New Mexico WSC’s, are available from the USGS Publications Warehouse and selected reports are available from New Mexico WSC's "Online Publications for New Mexico" page. Printed copies of many New Mexico WSC publications are available at no cost and can be requested by email.


    How/where can I get hardcopy and digital topographic maps?

    For New Mexico, hardcopy maps can be ordered from Holman's, Albuqerque. They can also be ordered directly from the USGS; digital versions are available for free download from the same Web address.


    How/where can I get hydrologic GIS datasets?

    For New Mexico, detailed watershed boundaries, hydrologic units, topographic images, map indexes, elevation, ortho-imagery, geographic names, land use, land cover, soils, climate-precipitation, and climate-temperature can be obtained from the Natural Resources Conservation Service Geospatial Data Gateway.

    Hydrologic networks (GIS jargon for rivers, streams, and creeks) can be obtained in multiple levels of detail (down to 1:24,000 scale) from the USGS National Hydrography Dataset (NHD).


    How/where can I get aerial/satellite photos of New Mexico and other places?

    USGS aerial images can be located by way of the USGS Store. The Earth Data Analysis Center, University of New Mexico also has an extensive set of aerial images for New Mexico. Several non-governmental sources now make aerial imagery available to view or order online, among which are Google Maps, Google Earth, and Terraserver.


    Where can I get current data for lakes and reservoirs and find out about reservoir releases?

    The USGS has real-time gage-height information for a few lakes and reservoirs in New Mexico. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Bureau of Reclamation operate most of the reservoirs in New Mexico and are usually the places to go for reservoir releases:

    Army Corps of Engineers
      For Rio Grande Basin, including Abiqui and Cochiti
        Future flows: 505 342-3382
        Today's flows: 505 342-3385
      For Pecos River - Santa Rosa: 505 342-3551
      For Canadian River - Conchos Lake: 505 342-3384

    Bureau of Reclamation
    Western Colorado Area Office - Reservoir Operations
    Navajo Reservoir Releases


    Can I request to have a temperature reported for a streamgage site where temperature isn’t measured now?

    Adding and maintaining temperature equipment to a stage-only or streamflow station costs extra money, so we need outside support to fund this addition above and beyond the funding for stage or flow. If you would like to see temperature readings at a favorite fishing or boating site on an New Mexico stream, contact us. We’ll explain how you might be able to work with a tax-supported entity to help fund the upgrade.


    How do I obtain streamflow information for fishing at a particular site?

    A given streamflow (for example, 215 cubic feet per second (cfs)) means different things at different sites. On a river that drains a large area, 215 cfs may be a trickle. On a small stream, it may be a flood. If you are trying to figure out when the river is wadeable, you might look at our measurement page for the gaged site of interest. You will see the gage heights corresponding to wading measurements we have made (as indicated in the “meas. type column”). Obviously, at a given gage height, it may be possible to safely wade in some locations and not in others so be careful, wear a personal flotation device, and take other precautions.

    As for what’s a good flow for when the fish bite, we’re too busy tending to our gages to have time to find out! However, there are many other places to check. Following are just a few we know of (Note: mention of web sites does not constitute an endorsement by the USGS):

    New Mexico Department of Game and Fish

    U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

    Southwest Council Federation of Flyfishers

    The Reel Life


    How do I obtain streamflow information for kayaking or canoeing at a particular site?

    The American Whitewater organization has a database that relates USGS real-time data to their judgment of whether the stream is "running" too low or too high for paddling. Additional information can be found at the riverfacts website.


    Where do I find information on USGS bench marks? For instance, if I need to get an elevation or want to report a bench mark that's been destroyed or that needs to be moved?

    Following  is the contact information:

    U.S. Geological Survey

    Science Information and Library Services

    1400 Independence Road, Mail Stop 231

    Rolla, MO 65401

    Toll Free:  888-ASK-USGS, choose option #2

    Phone: (573) 308-3500

    Fax: (573) 308-3615

    Email: mcmcesic@usgs.gov


    Is your drinking water safe?

    The New Mexico Environment Department, Drinking Water Bureau can be accessed at the following website: http://www.nmenv.state.nm.us/dwb/Index.htm


    How deep is groundwater in my area?

    This is a difficult question to answer because groundwater conditions can differ dramatically over short distances. If you have well locations, the New Mexico Office of the State Engineer Waters Database can give you a general idea of groundwater depth in your county. You can also email us and we can search our database in the area you request to see if USGS has any wells in or near your requested location that will provide water-level or well information.


    Does the USGS provide information through any social media venues?

    Yes, for general information about USGS social-media venues, check out this website: USGS social media

    Or, check out the direct links to some of the venues: YouTube | news listservers | facebook | twitter


  • USGS Home Water Climate Change Core Science Ecosystems Energy and Minerals Env. Health Hazards

    Accessibility FOIA Privacy Policies and Notices

    Take Pride in America logo USA.gov logo U.S. Department of the Interior | U.S. Geological Survey
    URL: http://nm.water.usgs.gov/faq/index.html
    Page Contact Information: webmaster@nm.water.usgs.gov
    Page Last Modified: Tuesday, 12-Feb-2013 14:07:28 EST