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USGS News Release: Groundwater Levels are Rebounding in Albuquerque

Groundwater levels in the Albuquerque area are on the rise according to newly published research from the U.S. Geological Survey.

USGS maps produced since 2002 show that groundwater levels in and near Albuquerque, New Mexico, are rising compared to historical conditions despite recent below-normal annual precipitation. Relatively high groundwater levels in 2016 and reductions in the amount of groundwater-level decline, known as drawdown, are indicators of a rebounding groundwater level.


“These maps help the Water Authority ensure that our strategy of transitioning to surface water to supply the majority of our drinking water is having the desired effect on the aquifer and helping provide a resilient supply for the future of Albuquerque,” said Katherine Yuhas, Water Resources Division Manager at the Albuquerque Bernalillo County Water Utilities Authority (ABCWUA).


The USGS has produced maps of drawdown (water-level decline) relative to pre-1961 conditions for the years 2002, 2008, 2012 and now for 2016. The 2016 map shows that areas of drawdown are decreasing in spatial extent and magnitude and that groundwater levels are recovering. The trend of rebounding groundwater levels since 2008 corresponds with decreases in groundwater withdrawals. In 2008, the ABCWUA incorporated the use of surface water from the San Juan-Chama Diversion Project rather than solely depending on groundwater for much of its drinking-water supply. Other water conservation efforts also account for rising groundwater levels. 


"In many areas of the world, groundwater levels are dropping due to pumping, so what is happening in Albuquerque is notable,” said John Bumgarner, Director of the USGS New Mexico Water Science Center. “Understanding how the aquifer responds to shifts in demand is important for the ABCWUA and for the residents of Albuquerque. The USGS is proud of its role in providing sound science to support Albuquerque’s management decisions and future planning."

Estimated 2016 Albuquerque Groundwater Level and Drawdown
Estimated 2016 groundwater level and drawdown, predevelopment (prior to 1961) to 2016, Albuquerque area, central New Mexico.
Estimated 2008 Albuquerque Groundwater Level and Drawdown
Map showing estimated 2008 potentometric surface and water-level change, predevelopment to 2008, Albuquerque, New Mexico.


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