New Mexico Water Science Center
NEW MEXICO PROJECTS
Groundwater-Level Monitoring in Middle Rio Grande Basin Piezometers
Project Chief: Joe Beman
In 1996, the U.S. Geological Survey, in cooperation with the New Mexico Office of the State Engineer and the Albuquerque Bernallilo County Water Utility Authority, began a drilling program to install specialized monitoring wells in the Middle Rio Grande Basin. The purpose of the program is to monitor hydraulic head at specific depths in the aquifer (fig. 1). Most of these specialized wells, called piezometers, are located in areas between major water-production wells so that data collected are more representative of general conditions in the aquifer rather than conditions influenced primarily by the daily on-and-off cycles of the production wells. Because hydraulic head varies vertically as well as horizontally throughout the aquifer system, piezometers are completed at different depths, typically in groups of three (fig. 1). Hydraulic head is monitored by continuously measuring the depth to water in each piezometer and recording a measurement every hour. To ensure the accuracy of the recording device, measurements are made by hand every 4 to 8 weeks using steel or electric tape.
Figure 1. Schematic east-west section through central Albuquerque displaying the construction of a typical piezometer nest and typical water-production well in the Santa Fe Group aquifer system. Also displayed is the generalized distribution of hydraulic head: the red-purple area represents low hydraulic head, and the orange areas represent high hydraulic head. Ground water moves (depending on the aquifer materials) from areas of high hydraulic head to areas of low hydraulic head.
Comparison of water levels from year to year can show trends in water-level decline or recovery in the aquifer system. Data from each piezometer in the network are viewable by way of the links listed below. Locations of wells within the Albuquerque Basin can be viewed by clicking on: Location Map link.
Data for individual sites can be obtained by selecting the site number below