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Development of an integrated hydrologic flow model of the Rio San Jose Basin and surrounding areas, New Mexico

May 8, 2023

The Rio San Jose Integrated Hydrologic Model (RSJIHM) was developed to provide a tool for analyzing the hydrologic system response to historical water use and potential changes in water supplies and demands in the Rio San Jose Basin. The study area encompasses about 6,300 square miles in west-central New Mexico and includes the communities of Grants, Bluewater, and San Rafael and three Native American Tribal lands: the Acoma and Laguna Pueblos and the Navajo Nation. Perennial surface water features are sparse in the study area and most water resources consist of groundwater pumped from sedimentary and basalt aquifers.

Calibration of the RSJIHM was performed using PEST++ (version 4.3.20) and BeoPEST (version 13.6). Model parameter values were adjusted during calibration to fit model simulated values to the measured or estimated values for several observation groups: (1) solar radiation, (2) potential evapotranspiration, (3) actual evapotranspiration, (4) precipitation and minimum and maximum air temperature, (5) snow water equivalent, (6) snow-covered area, (7) streamflow, (8) hydraulic head, (9) springflow at Ojo del Gallo, (10) springflow at Horace Springs, (11) surface-water releases from Bluewater Lake, and (12) surface-water diversions for irrigation within the Bluewater-Toltec Irrigation District.

The simulated average annual hydrologic budget from 1950 through 2018 indicated that the majority (greater than 98 percent) of precipitation within the basin was consumed by evapotranspiration, leaving 1.2 percent to recharge the groundwater system, 0.47 percent to direct runoff to streams, and 0.20 percent to infiltrate the soil zone and interflow to streams. The average annual recharge to the groundwater system and runoff to streams simulated by the RSJIHM was about 28,000 and 11,000 acre-feet, respectively. The RSJIHM simulated about 590,000 acre-feet of cumulative aquifer storage depletion from 1950 through 2018.

Additional work that could improve the simulation capability of the RSJIHM includes (1) further data collection (streamflow, head, springflow) in the southwestern subbasin that includes the El Malpais National Monument, (2) incorporating temporally variable vegetation parameters, (3) spatial downscaling of the hydrometeorological input datasets, (4) incorporating additional spatial variability to hydraulic property parameters on the basis of new data collection, and (5) using environmental tracers to verify and calibrate model parameters.

Publication Year 2023
Title Development of an integrated hydrologic flow model of the Rio San Jose Basin and surrounding areas, New Mexico
DOI 10.3133/sir20235028
Authors Andre B. Ritchie, Shaleene B. Chavarria, Amy E. Galanter, Allison K. Flickinger, Andrew J. Robertson, Donald S. Sweetkind
Publication Type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Series Title Scientific Investigations Report
Series Number 2023-5028
Index ID sir20235028
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization New Mexico Water Science Center