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Scientific Investigations Map 3305

Prepared in cooperation with the Albuquerque Bernalillo County Water Utility Authority

Simulated and Measured Water Levels and Estimated Water-Level Changes in the Albuquerque Area, Central New Mexico, 1950–2012

By Steven Rice, Gretchen Oelsner, and Charles Heywood

Thumbnail of and link to map PDF (7.92 MB)Abstract

The City of Albuquerque, the major population center in New Mexico, underwent a more than fivefold population increase between 1950 and 2010. Before 2009, groundwater was the primary source of the City of Albuquerque’s municipal water supply, but since that time, the city has diverted water through the San Juan-Chama Drinking Water Project to augment municipal water supplies. Consequently, there is interest in understanding how groundwater levels changed in response to groundwater pumping, surface-water diversions, and conservation measures. To give a more detailed history of water-level changes from 1950 through 2012, the U.S. Geological Survey, in cooperation with the Albuquerque Bernalillo County Water Utility Authority, created maps showing water-level contours and changes by contouring water-table elevations and production-zone hydraulic heads that were simulated with a recently updated regional-scale transient groundwater-flow model at 10-year intervals from 1950 to 2000 and again for 2008.

Both the water-table elevations and production-zone hydraulic heads declined over time with the largest change occurring between 1970 and 1980, which was a period of rapid population growth and groundwater use. Declines in the water-table elevations and production-zone hydraulic heads are focused around major pumping centers and are largest in the production zone. Hydrographs from nine production-zone piezometers in the modeled area indicated varying responses to the increased use of surface-water diversions during 2009–12, with responses related to the locations of the wells within the study area and their proximity to pumping centers and the Rio Grande.

First posted July 16, 2014

For additional information contact:
Director, New Mexico Water Science Center
U.S. Geological Survey
5338 Montgomery Boulevard NE
Albuquerque, New Mexico 87109–1311

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Suggested citation:

Rice, Steven, Oelsner, Gretchen, and Heywood, Charles, 2014, Simulated and measured water levels and estimated water-level changes in the Albuquerque area, central New Mexico, 1950–2012: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Map 3305, 1 sheet,

ISSN 2329-1311 (print)

ISSN 329-132X (online)

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