Assessment of Hydrologic Resources and the Potential Effects from Oil and Gas Development in the U.S. Bureau of Land Management Tri-County Planning Area, Sierra, Doña Ana, and Otero Counties, New Mexico

Science Center Objects

The Tri-County Resource Management Plan/Environmental Impact Statement (RMP/EIS) “decision area” (the public lands and resources that are managed by the Bureau of Land Management in Sierra, Doña Ana, and Otero Counties) is a large (4,375 square miles) and varied landscape. The decision area contains both connected and closed surface-water and groundwater basins, some of which cross state and international boundaries, with competing water demands and both remote and populated areas. Some portions of the decision area are multiple-use lands, while others have varying levels of resource protections, including areas of critical environmental concern (ACECs) and wilderness study areas (WSAs).

Tri-County Study Map, NMWSC

Tri-County Study Map, NMWSC

(Public domain.)


  • Summarize the current understanding of the hydrologic resources of the Tri-County area, and identify critical data gaps in evaluating those resources.
  • Assess the vulnerability of hydrologic resources to potential effects of oil and gas development within the Tri-County area.
  • Develop a plan of study to identify specific areas needing additional assessment and monitoring.



  • Improve the existing characterization of surface-water and groundwater resources across the Tri-County area.
  • Provide hydrologic information related to potential future oil and gas development.


Study results can be used to guide the sustainable preservation and management of water resources.