Water Resource Assessment of the Rio San Jose Basin, West-Central New Mexico

Science Center Objects

Water resources in the Rio San Jose Basin are limited, and development for public supply, mining, agriculture, and commercial activities have the potential to affect the water availability and quality at a basin-wide scale. This study is designed to provide water-resource managers with better information to plan for potential effects of increased or shifting demands and changes of climatic conditions, to fairly administer water rights, and to support sustainable development. To provide these tools and information, it is necessary to understand what surface-water and groundwater resources are available, how these resources are interconnected, and how the resources might be affected by changing stresses.

Rio San Jose Basin Map, NMWSC

(Public domain.)

OBJECTIVES

This study will be conducted in two phases. The objective of Phase 1 is to characterize the hydrogeologic framework and water resources of the San Jose Basin. The data collected and compiled in Phase 1 will be used to construct and calibrate an integrated hydrologic flow model in Phase 2. The objective of Phase 2 is to use the integrated hydrologic flow model to evaluate the possible regional effects of different water-use and climate scenarios on the basin’s water-resources.

  • Characterize the hydrogeologic framework and water resources of the Rio San Jose Basin
  • Create a watershed management tool to evaluate the possible regional effects of different water-use and climate scenarios on the basin’s water-resources
Water Level Measurement, Rio San Jose, NMWSC

Water Level Measurement, Rio San Jose, NMWSC

(Credit: Andrew Robertson, USGS New Mexico Water Science Center. Public domain.)

RELEVANCE and BENEFITS

This project will provide the Pueblos of Acoma and Laguna with quantified estimates of water availability and use in the Rio San Jose Basin and the ability to simulate the hydrologic effects of water-rights settlement options. The proposed work will provide a better understanding of the nation’s water-resources, assist the stakeholders in the Rio San Jose Basin in evaluating various water-management options, and support the USGS mission of disseminating water-resources information to the public.

 

APPROACH

The objectives will be met by conducting the study in two phases. During Phase 1, existing and new geologic, groundwater, surface-water, and hydrochemical data will be compiled and evaluated to characterize the flow system. During Phase 2, an integrated hydrologic flow model will be constructed and calibrated as a tool to simulate the flow system and potential effects of water-use and climate scenarios on groundwater and surface-water resources in the Rio San Jose Basin. Upon completion of the study, the model will be transferred to the Pueblos of Acoma and Laguna and other stakeholders for continued assessment of management alternatives in the basin.

  • Collect and compile hydrologic information, including groundwater-level measurements, streamflow data, well log information, and aqueous geochemical analysis
  • Construct hydrogeologic framework, potentiometric-surface maps, sources of recharge, groundwater flow paths, and groundwater/surface water exchange
  • Develop coupled groundwater/surface-water flow model (GSFLOW) to investigate aquifer-stream interactions, provide water budgets, and simulate effects of current and potential groundwater and surface-water management and changing climatic conditions
Rio San Jose, NM, NMWSC

Rio San Jose, NM, NMWSC

(Credit: Andrew Robertson, USGS New Mexico Water Science Center. Public domain.)

Hydrologic Data Collection – Groundwater-level and streamflow data will be collected, and a monthly groundwater-level monitoring network will be established. Synoptic sets of streamflow measurements will be made during low-flow and high-flow conditions to delineate gaining/losing stream reaches, which will be used to calibrate the groundwater flow model. Hydrochemical data will be collected to define groundwater-flow paths and provide estimates of ages of water. Specific data-collection tasks include:

Hydrogeologic Framework - The interpretation of the hydrogeologic framework of the Rio San Jose Basin will be based primarily on existing maps of surficial geology and the lithologic information from drillers’ logs.

Potentiometric-Surface Map - A potentiometric-surface map will be constructed in the Rio San Jose Basin based on data collected during this study. The map will provide insights about generalized groundwater-flow directions, horizontal and vertical water-level gradients, and the gaining/losing stream reaches.

Water Use - Water-right and current/historical water-use information will be obtained from the New Mexico Office of the State Engineer and water purveyors located within the study area. USGS staff will estimate current and historical domestic water use using census records, average per capita water use, and aerial photo analysis to assist in identifying exempt (unregulated) uses including lawn or non-commercial garden watering and small-scale industrial uses.

Water-Budget Estimates - A daily water-budget model, Precipitation-Runoff Modeling System (PRMS; Leavesley and others, 1983), will be used to generate water-budget component estimates. Daily streamflow values of Rio San Jose, as measured at USGS streamflow-gaging station 08343500 (1936 to 2015), will be used for calibration.

Numerical Groundwater-Flow Model - A steady-state numerical groundwater-flow model (MODFLOW-NWT; Niswonger and others, 2011) will be constructed and calibrated to represent hydrologic processes in the Rio San Jose Basin. Preliminary modeling using existing data and model parameters developed by Frenzel (1991, 1992) will be used to begin to understand the hydrologic system from a modeling perspective. Model calibration and sensitivity analysis will be conducted using automated parameter-estimation methods. Time-averaged and synoptic groundwater-level and streamflow data will be evaluated for use in the steady-state model calibration.

Watershed Model - The Precipitation-Runoff Modeling System (PRMS; Leavesley and others, 1983) will be used to develop a watershed-model for the Rio San Jose Basin.

Integrated Groundwater and Surface-Water Model – A three-dimensional, transient numerical model of groundwater and surface-water flow will be constructed for the Rio San Jose Basin to better understand the groundwater-flow system and its relation to surface-water resources. The USGS coupled groundwater and surface-water flow model GSFLOW (Markstrom and others, 2008) will be used to investigate the aquifer-stream interactions, provide water budgets, and simulate the effects of current and potential groundwater and surface-water withdrawals.

Rio San Jose, NM, NMWSC

Rio San Jose, NM, NMWSC

(Credit: Andrew Robertson, USGS New Mexico Water Science Center. Public domain.)

REFERENCES

Frenzel, P.F., 1991, Listings of model input values for the simulation of ground-water flow in the San Andres-Glorieta aquifer in the Acoma Embayment and eastern Zuni Uplift, west-central New Mexico: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 91-236, 4 p. 

Frenzel, P.F., 1992, Simulation of ground-water flow in the San Andres/Glorieta aquifer in the Acoma Embayment and eastern Zuni Uplift, west-central New Mexico: U.S. Geological Survey Water-Resources Investigations Report 91–4099, 381 p. 

Leavesley, G.H., Lichty, R.W., Troutman, B.M., and Saindon, L.G., 1983, Precipitation-runoff modeling system—User’s manual: U.S. Geological Survey Water Resources Investigation Report 83-4238, 207 p. 

Markstrom, S.L., Niswonger, R.G., Regan, R.S., Prudic, D.E., and Barlow P.M., 2008, GSFLOW—Coupled groundwater and surface-water flow model based on the integration of the Precipitation-Runoff Modeling System (PRMS) and the Modular Ground-Water Flow Model (MODFLOW-2005): U.S. Geological Survey Techniques and Methods 6-D1, 240 p. 

Niswonger, R.G., Panday, Sorab, and Ibaraki, Motomu, 2011, MODFLOW-NWT, A Newton formulation for MODFLOW-2005: U.S. Geological Survey Techniques and Methods 6–A37, 44 p.