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Middle Rio Grande Basin Study

Project Chief: Jim Bartolino
Cooperators: Multiple Federal, State, local agencies
Period of Project: 1995 through 2002

Bernalillo Riverside Drain at Bernalillo.

Riverside drains such as the Bernalillo Riverside Drain at Bernalillo form part of a complex irrigation network that is intimately linked with the Rio Grande and Santa Fe Group aquifer system.

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Middle Rio Grande Basin Study was a 6-year effort (1995-2001) by the USGS and other agencies to improve the understanding of the hydrology, geology, and land-surface characteristics of the Middle Rio Grande Basin in order to provide the scientific information needed for water-resources management. The Santa Fe Group aquifer system is the main source of municipal water for the region, and the main purpose of the study was to improve the understanding of the water resources of the basin.

In addition to the USGS, many other Federal, State, and local governments and agencies contributed resources to or cooperated in the Middle Rio Grande Basin Study. These governments and agencies include the City of Albuquerque, New Mexico Office of the State Engineer, New Mexico Bureau of Geology and Mineral Resources (NMBGMR), Middle Rio Grande Council of Governments (MRGCOG), and a number of pueblos and other Federal, State, and local agencies.

The Middle Rio Grande Basin, as defined for the study, is the area within the Rio Grande Valley extending from about Cochiti Lake downstream to about San Acacia. It covers approximately 3,060 square miles in central New Mexico, encompassing parts of Santa Fe, Sandoval, Bernalillo, Valencia, Socorro, Torrance, and Cibola Counties, and includes a ground-water basin composed of the Santa Fe Group aquifer system. (It is equivalent to the Albuquerque Basin referred to by other authors.) The climate over most of the basin is semiarid. In 2000, the population of the Middle Rio Grande Basin was about 690,000 or about 38 percent of the population of New Mexico. Currently (2002), water for municipal and domestic supply is almost exclusively from ground water.

Participants

Data

 Airborne Geophysics in the Middle Rio Grande Basin

Publications

Ground-Water Resources of the Middle Rio Grande Basin, New Mexico Circular: A summary of the current understanding of the hydrologic system of the Middle Rio Grande Basin written for a non-technical audience. This report includes new scientific findings by the USGS Middle Rio Grande Basin Study.

Bartolino, J.R., and Cole, J.C., 2002, Ground-water resources of the Middle Rio Grande Basin, New Mexico: U.S. Geological Survey Circular 1222, 132 p.

Related Publications

Plummer, L. Niel, Bexfield, Laura M., Anderholm, Scott K., Sanford, Ward E., and Busenberg, Eurybiades, 2004, Geochemical characterization of ground-water flow in the Santa Fe Group aquifer system, Middle Rio Grande Basin, New Mexico. U.S. Geological Survey Water-Resources Investigations Report 03-4131 395p.

Plummer, L.N., W.E. Sanford, L.M. Bexfield, S.K. Anderholm, and E. Busenberg, 2004, Using geochemical data and aquifer simulation to characterize recharge and groundwater flow in the Middle Rio Grande Basin, New Mexico, in Groundwater Recharge in a Desert Environment: The Southwestern United States, edited by J.F. Hogan, F.M. Phillips, and B.R. Scanlon, Water Science and Applications Series, vol. 9, American Geophysical Union, Washington, D.C., 185-216.

Sanford, W.E., Plummer, L.N., McAda, D.P., Bexfield, L.M., and Anderholm, S.K., 2004, Use of environmental tracers to estimate parameters for a predevelopment-ground-water-flow model of the Middle Rio Grande Basin, New Mexico: U. S. Geological Survey Water-Resources Investigations Report 03-4286, 102 p.

Sanford Ward E., Plummer L. Niel, McAda, Douglas P., Bexfield, Laura M., Anderholm, Scott K., 2004, Hydrochemical tracers in the Middle Rio Grande Basin, USA: 2. Calibration of a groundwater model. Hydrogeology Journal, v. 12, p. 389-407.

Bexfield, L. M., and Plummer, L. N., 2003, Occurrence of arsenic in ground water of the Middle Rio Grande Basin, central New Mexico, in Welch, A. H., and Stollenwerk, K. G., eds., Arsenic in Ground Water: Geochemistry and Occurrence, Kluwer Academic Publishers, Chapter 11, p. 295-327.

Plummer, L. Niel, Bexfield, Laura, M., Anderholm, Scott K., Sanford, Ward E., and Busenberg, Eurybiades, 2003, Hydrochemical tracers in the Middle Rio Grande Basin, USA: 1. Conceptualization of groundwater flow. Hydrogeology Journal, v. 12, p. 359-388.

Bartolino, J.R., Cole, J.C., and Hester, D.J., 2002, Ground-Water Resources of the Middle Rio Grande Basin: U.S. Geological Survey Fact Sheet FS-088-02, 6 pages (pdf ).

Plummer, L.N., Bexfield, L.M., Anderholm, S.K., Sanford, W.E., and Busenberg, E., 2001, Geochemical characterization of ground-water flow in parts of the Santa Fe Group aquifer system, Middle Rio Grande Basin, New Mexico, in Cole, J.C., ed., U.S. Geological Survey Middle Rio Grande Basin Study -- Proceedings of the Fourth Annual Workshop, Albuquerque, New Mexico, February 15-16, 2000: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 00-488, p. 7-10.

Sanford, W.E., Plummer, L.N., McAda, D.P., Bexfield, L.M., and Anderholm, S.K., 2001, Estimation of hydrologic parameters for the ground-water model of the Middle Rio Grande Basin Using carbon-14 and water-level data, in Cole, J.C., ed., U.S. Geological Survey Middle Rio Grande Basin Study -- Proceedings of the Fourth Annual Workshop, Albuquerque, New Mexico, February 15-16, 2000: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 00-488, p. 4-6.

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