Rio Grande Travel Times

Science Center Objects

The City of Albuquerque will begin accepting delivery of imported San Juan-Chama water to supplement present municipal water supplies as part of the City's Drinking Water Project (DWP). The City's San Juan-Chama water will be diverted from the Rio Grande near Alameda Bridge in Albuquerque, transported to a treatment facility, and eventually distributed to customers.

Water in the Rio Grande is susceptible to contamination by a variety of sources. In the event of contamination of water supplies, water-resource managers must decide when, and for how long, to suspend diversions. Knowledge of travel times and dispersion characteristics will allow managers to make informed decisions.

Objectives and Scope

The objective of this study is to determine travel times and dispersion characteristics for the Rio Grande between Cochiti Dam and the Alameda Bridge in Albuquerque. Time of travel studies will be conducted during two stream discharges that bracket the average range of streamflows. Information collected during these two studies will be extrapolated to estimate travel time and dispersion characteristics for solutes at any location at any discharge.

 

Approach

Phase I:

Existing streamflow records will be evaluated to collect information needed to prepare for the tracer studies. The range of interest of stream discharges will be determined by examination of existing streamflow records and flow-duration curves (Kilpatrick and Wilson, 1982, p. 7). Two stream discharges that bracket the range of interest will be selected. The low flow (higher flow duration) will be representative of average flow conditions; the high flow (smaller flow duration) will be representative of spring snowmelt conditions.

Additional information collected during this phase will include channel widths, channel depths and streamflow velocities for the selected discharges, channel slope, and approximate discharges for tributary inflows.

Phase II:

Two tracer studies, using Rhodamine WT dye, will be conducted to estimate travel times and characterize dispersion for various reaches upstream from the DWP point of diversion. One tracer study will conducted at low flow; one will be conducted at high flow. Samples will be collected at a minimum of two downstream sampling locations for each study. Travel times will be estimated to develop an approximate sampling schedule (Kilpatrick and Wilson (1982, p.16); Jobson (1996).

 

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