Upper Rio Grande Basin Focus Area Study

Science Center Objects

The Upper Rio Grande Basin (URGB) of Colorado, New Mexico, Texas, and northern Mexico was chosen as a focus area study (FAS) for the USGS National Water Census. The conjunctive use of water in the URGB takes place under a myriad of legal constraints including the Rio Grande Compact agreement between the States, an international treaty with Mexico, and several federal water projects. Development of estimates of the selected water-budget components for the URGB FAS will support current and on-going local, state, and Federal efforts to advance the understanding of the hydrologic system of the Upper Rio Grande and improve management of the conjunctive use of surface-water and groundwater resources. https://water.usgs.gov/wausp/

Upper Rio Grande Basin Map, NM Water Science Center

Upper Rio Grande Basin Map, NM Water Science Center

(Public domain.)


  • Compile and evaluate water use by major category at the HUC-8 spatial scale
  • Estimate actual evapotranspiration using the Simplified Surface Energy Balance method
  • Simulate snowmelt processes, including estimation of sublimation loss, in the headwaters of the URGB
  • Develop a basin-scale hydrogeologic framework and water-level surface and change maps.



Develop a consistent set of indicators that reflect the status and trends of major water budget components, and provide information and tools that allow users to better understand water availability and use in the URGB.


Water Availability and Use Science Program (WAUSP)