Pecos River Basin Salinity Assessment

Science Center Objects

The USGS Texas Water Science Center assesssed salinity of the Pecos River Basin from Santa Rosa Lake, New Mexico to the confluence of Pecos River and Rio Grande, Texas. This assessment included an extensive literature review, compilation of previously published salinity related data, data gap analysis, additional data collection to fill data gaps, and identification of potential areas of elevated salinity in the Pecos River Basin.

Collecting water-quality samples from an artesian well in the Pecos River watershed, Texas

Collecting water-quality samples from an artesian well in the Pecos River watershed, Texas. (Public domain.)

High salinity concentrations in the Pecos River Basin are affecting water quality, water quantity, and ecosystems in the basin. Salinity is defined as the total concentration of dissolved minerals in the water; for the Pecos River Basin these are primarily salts of sodium chloride and calcium sulfate The problems associated with elevated salinity include decreased availability of clean drinking water and water for agricultural and livestock uses.  High salinity concentrations have reduced the amount of usable surface water to meet water demands in this arid region; which has increased demands on groundwater.  In addition, high salinity concentrations in the basin have resulted in low dissolved oxygen in the river which impairs aquatic biota resources.

The study began in May of 2014.