Report Abstract



Approximately 40 percent (about 600,000 people) of the total population of New Mexico lives within the Middle Rio Grande Basin, which includes the City of Albuquerque. Ongoing analyses of the central portion of the Middle Rio Grande Basin by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) in cooperation with the City of Albuquerque and other cooperators have shown that ground water in the basin is not as readily accessible as earlier studies indicated. A more complete characterization of the ground-water resources of the entire Middle Rio Grande Basin is hampered by a scarcity of data in the northern and southern areas of the basin.

The USGS Middle Rio Grande Basin Study is a 5-year effort by the USGS and other agencies to improve the understanding of the hydrology, geology, and land-surface characteristics of the Middle Rio Grande Basin. The primary objective of this study is to improve the understanding of the water resources of the basin. Of particular interest is to determine the extent of hydrologic connection between the Rio Grande and the Santa Fe Group aquifer. Additionally, ground-water quality affects the availability of water supplies in the basin. Improving the existing USGS- constructed ground-water flow model of the Middle Rio Grande Basin will integrate all the various tasks that improve our knowledge of the various components of the Middle Rio Grande water budget. Part of this improvement will be accompanied by extended knowledge of the aquifer system beyond the Albuquerque area into the northern and southern reaches of the basin. Other improvements will be based on understanding gained through process-oriented research and improved geologic characterization of the deposits. The USGS will study the hydrology, geology, and land-surface characteristics of the basin to provide the scientific information needed for water- resources management and for managers to plan for water supplies needed for a growing population.

To facilitate exchange of information among the many USGS scientists working in the Middle Rio Grande Basin, yearly technical meetings are planned for the anticipated 5-year study. These meetings provide an opportunity to present research results and plan new field efforts. This report documents the results of research presented at the first technical workshop held in Denver, Colorado, in November 1996.

The report is organized into this introduction, five chapters that focus on USGS investigations in progress in the Middle Rio Grande Basin, and three appendixes with supplemental information. The first chapter provides an overview of the USGS program in the basin. The second chapter describes geographic data and analysis efforts in the basin. The third chapter details work being done on the hydrogeologic framework of the basin. The fourth chapter describes studies on ground-water availability in the basin and is divided into three areas of research: ground-water/surface-water interaction, ground-water flow and aquifer properties, and recharge. The fifth chapter is devoted to an overview of New Mexico District Cooperative Program studies in the basin. Finally, the appendixes list publications and presentations made during the first year of the study and 1996 workshop attendees. The report concludes with a list of selected references relevant to the study.

The information in this report presents preliminary results of an evolving study. As the study progresses and individual projects publish their results in more detail, the USGS hopes to expand the scientific basis needed for management decisions regarding the Middle Rio Grande Basin.

Abstract from Open-File Report 97-116


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