Characterization of the Hydrologic Resources of San Miguel County, New Mexico, and Identification of Critical Data Gaps in Characterizing the Hydrologic Resources, 2011

Science Center Objects

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), in cooperation with San Miguel County, New Mexico, conducted a study to assess publicly available information regarding the hydrologic resources of San Miguel County and to identify data gaps in that information and hydrologic information that could aid in the management of available water resources. The USGS operates four continuous annual streamgages in San Miguel County. Monthly discharge at these streamgages is generally bimodally distributed, with most runoff corresponding to spring runoff and to summer monsoonal rains. Data compiled since 1951 on the geology and groundwater resources of San Miguel County are generally consistent with the original characterization of depth and availability of groundwater resources and of source aquifers. Subsequent exploratory drilling identified deep available groundwater in some locations. Most current (2011) development of groundwater resources is in western San Miguel County, particularly in the vicinity of El Creston hogback, the hogback ridge just west of Las Vegas, where USGS groundwater-monitoring wells indicate that groundwater levels are declining.

Regarding future studies to address identified data gaps, the ability to evaluate and quantify surface-water resources, both as runoff and as potential groundwater recharge, could be enhanced by expanding the network of streamgages and groundwater-monitoring wells throughout the county. A series of seepage surveys along the lengths of the rivers could help to determine locations of surface-water losses to and gains from the local groundwater system and could help to quantify the component of streamflow attributable to irrigation return flow; associated synoptic water-quality sampling could help to identify potential effects to water quality attributable to irrigation return flow. Effects of groundwater withdrawals on streamflow could be assessed by constructing monitoring wells along transects between production wells and stream reaches of interest to monitor decline or recovery of the water table, to quantify the timing and extent of water-table response, and to identify the spatial extent of capture zones. Assessment of groundwater potential could be aided by a county-wide distribution of water-level information and by a series of maps of groundwater potential, compiled for each individual aquifer, including saline aquifers, for which the potential for municipal use through desalination could be explored. A county-wide geographic information system hydrologic geodatabase could provide a comprehensive picture of water use in San Miguel County and could be used by San Miguel County as a decision-support tool for future management decisions.

San Miguel Site Map, New Mexico Water Science Center

San Miguel Site Map, New Mexico Water Science Center

(Public domain.)

Groundwater-Well Data of San Miguel County, New Mexico, 1970–2010

The hydrologic resources of San Miguel County, New Mexico, are increasingly relied upon to meet growing domestic, livestock, and agricultural needs. The U.S. Geological Survey, in cooperation with San Miguel County, conducted a study during 2010–11 to assess current publicly available information regarding the hydrologic resources of San Miguel County. As part of that study, groundwater-well data from wells located in San Miguel County were acquired from two sources: San Miguel County groundwater-well information archived in the State of New Mexico Water Rights Reporting System online database and groundwater-well information archived in the National Water Information System of the U.S. Geological Survey. The collected data provide information regarding depth to groundwater and depth of well completions in the context of physiographic features of the county.


Monitoring wells measured within the last 13 months can be viewed through the USGS Groundwater Watch network.

Comparison of recent streamflow to the historic record can viewed through the USGS WaterWatch network.


Current and historic groundwater sites operated by the USGS in San Miguel County

Site ID                       Site Name

353418105145601  16N.16E.33.143

352725105160901  14N.16E.08.321

353001105402601  15N.12E.28.233

354054105092101  17N.17E.20.222 Stock Well

354310105035801  17N.18E.07.234 Ranch Windmill

352949105144301  15N.16E.28.414

353146105144801  15N.16E.16.1444

353346105145201  15N.16E.04.242

353418105145601  16N.16E.33.143

351118104070501  11N.27E.09.333

351121105235001  11N.14E.12.44421

351544104022101  12N.27E.14.434

351553103483301  12N.29E.13.423

351809104204101  12N.24E.01.211

352747104294301  14N.23E.03.3333

353136104401101  16N.21E.13.324

353211104455001  15N.20E.12.443

353301105154501  15N.16E.05.434 (PROJECTED)

353318105025601  15N.18E.05.431

353438105013701  16N.18E.33.423

353441105150401  16N.16E.33.114

353643104055401  16N.27E.29.3

353657103535701  17N.28E.31.212

353715105045601  16N.17E.16.4

353748104533801  16N.19E.01.324

353902104045601  16N.27E.04.123

353917104110801  17N.26E.31.44

354103103535701  17N.29E.19.343

354155104325101  17N.22E.13.442

354537104500301  18N.20E.29.421

354553104523901  18N.19E.25.231

354643104074101  10N.26E.24.2133 Costa Ranch Windmill

354724105144601  18N.16E.16.22331


Current and historic streamgages operated by the USGS in San Miguel County

Site ID         Site Name

07218700   Manuelitas Creek near Rociada

07220000   Sapello River at Sapello

07220100   Lake Isabel Canyon near Sapello

07220600   Sapello River near Watrous

07221500   Canadian River near Sanchez

07222000   Canadian River near Bell Ranch

07222500   Conchas River at Variadero

07223000   Bell Ranch Canal below Conchas Dam

07223300   Conchas Canal below Conchas Dam

07224500   Canadian River below Conchas Dam

08377900   Rio Mora near Terrero

08378500   Pecos River near Pecos

08379178   Tecolote Creek at Wright Canyon near El Porvenir

08379185   Wright Canyon at Mile 0.55 near El Porvenir

08379187   Tecolote Creek below Wright Canyon near El Porvenir

08379200   Tecolote Creek near San Pablo

08379500   Pecos River near Anton Chico

08380500   Gallinas Creek near Montezuma

08381000   Gallinas Creek at Montezuma

08382000   Gallinas River near Lourdes

08382500   Gallinas River near Colonias


Current and historic creststage gage sites operated by the USGS in San Miguel County

Site ID         Site Name

07221600   Lagartija Creek Tributary near Sanchez

07222300   Trementina Creek at Trementina

07222800   Garita Creek Tributary near Variadero

08378000   Pecos River near Cowles

08379300   Tecolote Creek at Tecolote

08379550   Canon Blanco near Leyba

08379600   Pecos River Tributary near Dilia

08380300   Sandoval Canyon at Gallinas

08381700   Canon Piedra Lumbre near Las Vegas