Understanding Managed Aquifer Recharge as a Water Storage Option in the Pojoaque River Basin

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In order to provide long-term storage of diverted surface water from the Rio Grande as part of the Aamodt water rights settlement, managed aquifer recharge by surface infiltration in Pojoaque River Basin arroyos was proposed as an option.

Equipment in Pojoaque River Basin
(Credit: Andrew Robertson, USGS. Public domain.)

The U.S. Geological Survey performed the initial hydrologic characterization of two arroyos in 2014 and 2015 in cooperation with the Bureau of Reclamation to evaluate the suitability of these two arroyos as sites for managed aquifer recharge. Results are now available in a newly released USGS publication.

“There are several favorable characteristics of the two arroyos, including the channel capacity for managed flows, evidence of local recharge and a geochemical and mineral environment that suggests that storing water diverted from the Rio Grande is not likely to lead to high concentrations of metals from the local geology,” said Andrew Robertson, USGS hydrologist. “But, the low storage-potential of the channel deposits and shallow bedrock, along with the need for significant infrastructure to retain applied water at the site, present challenges to using the arroyos for long-term water storage.”

The Aamodt water rights settlement was adopted by the Federal Court in 2016 to resolve water rights claims by four Pueblos in the Pojoaque Basin while preserving non-Pueblo water uses.