Middle Rio Grande Piezometer network

Science Center Objects

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.

Rio Grande Piezometers, USGS New Mexico Water Science Center

Rio Grande Piezometers, USGS New Mexico Water Science Center (Public domain.) 

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. 1) Thorn, C.R., 1996, Ground-water monitoring in the Albuquerque area: U.S. Geological Survey Fact Sheet FS-088-96, 2 p.


  • Collect continuous water-level data from data loggers at 12 sites with 31 piezometers every two months.
  • Maintain collected data in USGS databases.
  • Make all data available on line.



Provide OSE with continuous water-level data from piezometers nests at the Lincoln Middle School, Matheson Park, Mesa del Sol, Dome Road, Nancy Lopez, Tome, Bernalillo, Phoenix Road, Archery Range, OSE  County, Fairgrounds, Jail and Cuyamungue sites. Activities to achieve this objective include operation and maintenance of water-level data collection equipment; retrieval, quality assurance, and entry of water-level data into the ADAPS and GWSI database; and provision of electronic access to data by the OSE via the web.


Middle Rio Grand Piezometers:

Groundwater-Level Monitoring in Middle Rio Grande Basin Piezometers

Groundwater Monitoring in the Espanola Basin Piezometers