Municipal water supply for Albuquerque, New Mexico, is provided, in part, through diversion of surface water from the Rio Grande by way of the San Juan-Chama Drinking Water Project diversion structure. Changes in surface-water quality along the Rio Grande and its tributaries upstream from the San Juan-Chama Drinking Water Project diversion structure are not well characterized. This study describes the methods and results of an analysis of surface-water-quality trends for selected constituents in the Rio Grande upstream from Albuquerque. Trends were evaluated for differing time periods ranging from 2004 to 2019 by using the Seasonal Kendall Tau (SKT) test and the Weighted Regressions on Time, Discharge, and Season (WRTDS) model.
Water-quality data at three long-term sites were used for the trend analyses in this study, with the Cochiti and Alameda sites along the Rio Grande and the Jemez Canyon Dam site along the Jemez River, a tributary of the Rio Grande. The proximity of the Cochiti and Jemez Canyon Dam sites to dams is a drawback to the analysis because it is difficult to differentiate between the influence of dam management and the influence of streamflow on water-quality trends. The data used also did not fully meet desired levels of seasonal sampling density and had shorter periods of record than typically used for trend analysis, and this should be considered in the interpretation of these results.
Study results indicate that concentrations, and thereby fluxes, are influenced by changes in streamflow at the Alameda site. Most trends from the WRTDS results, obtained by using flow-normalization, were downward for constituents at the Alameda site. Most constituents that were analyzed for trends by using SKT did not have a significant trend at any of the sites included in this study, indicating either that the water quality in the Middle Rio Grande Basin has been stable during the study period or that not enough samples were collected during different seasons to characterize the range of concentration variability with streamflow. The SKT test results indicate upward trends in concentrations of the following constituents: aluminum and antimony at the Alameda site, nitrate and nitrate plus nitrite at the Cochiti site, and potassium and antimony during the spring season at Jemez Canyon Dam. The SKT test results indicate a downward trend in cobalt at the Cochiti site that is subject to bias in the cobalt concentrations. SKT test results also indicate small, downward trends in Kjeldahl nitrogen at the Alameda and Cochiti sites.
Concentrations of water-quality constituents were also compared to Federal and State water-quality standards to provide context and relevance to the results. No concentrations were above the national primary or secondary drinking water standards at the Alameda and Cochiti sites, but the Jemez Canyon Dam site did have concentrations above the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency primary drinking water standard for arsenic and above the national secondary drinking water standards for dissolved solids and aluminum. The Alameda and Cochiti sites are on reaches of the Rio Grande that are listed as impaired for gross alpha particles and the Alameda site is on a reach of the Rio Grande that is listed as impaired for Escherichia coli, but there were no consistent changes in concentrations of these constituents at the impaired locations.
|Title||Water-quality trends in surface waters of the Jemez River and Middle Rio Grande Basin from Cochiti to Albuquerque, New Mexico, 2004–19|
|Authors||Allison K. Flickinger, Zachary M. Shephard|
|Publication Subtype||USGS Numbered Series|
|Series Title||Scientific Investigations Report|
|Record Source||USGS Publications Warehouse|
|USGS Organization||New Mexico Water Science Center|