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Scientific Investigations Report 2015–5006

Prepared in cooperation with the City of Albuquerque, the Albuquerque Metropolitan Arroyo Flood Control Authority, the New Mexico Department of Transportation, and the University of New Mexico

Summary of Urban Stormwater Quality in Albuquerque, New Mexico, 2003–12

By Erik F. Storms, Gretchen P. Oelsner, Evan A. Locke, Michael R. Stevens, and Orlando C. Romero

Thumbnail of and link to report PDF (1.62 MB)Abstract

Urban stormwater in the Albuquerque metropolitan area was sampled by the U.S. Geological Survey in cooperation with the City of Albuquerque, the Albuquerque Metropolitan Arroyo Flood Control Authority, the New Mexico Department of Transportation, and the University of New Mexico. Stormwater was sampled from a network of monitoring stations from 2003 to 2012 by following regulatory requirements for the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System stormwater permit. During this period, stormwater was sampled in the Albuquerque metropolitan area at outfalls from nine drainage basins with residential, industrial, commercial, agricultural, and undeveloped land uses. Stormwater samples were analyzed for selected physical and chemical characteristics, nutrients, major ions, metals, organic compounds, and bacteria.

General quality of stormwater samples, as measured by dissolved solids, nutrient (with the exception of phosphorus), major ion, and dissolved metal concentrations, was similar to that in samples from the Rio Grande.

Of the nearly 200 organic compounds that were analyzed for this study, less than one-third (58 constituents) were positively identified at or above the analytical detection limit in stormwater. Concentrations for volatile organic compounds, semivolatile organic compounds, polychlorinated biphenyls, and pesticides were generally low in the stormwater samples. Fifteen of the 16 polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons listed on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Priority Chemicals list were detected in at least one stormwater sample from each outfall. Maximum concentrations for some polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in stormwater did exceed a water-quality criterion.

Median concentrations for Escherichia coli (E. coli) bacteria in the stormwater samples, including those from the background location (Embudo Arroyo), were above the New Mexico water-quality standard. Concentrations for E. coli in stormwater often exceeded the water-quality criterion.

The stormwater quality in Albuquerque was compared with that of six other Western U.S. cities (Phoenix, Arizona; Tucson, Arizona; Las Vegas, Nevada; Denver, Colorado; Salt Lake City, Utah; and Boise, Idaho) for selected constituents. In general, water-quality data for stormwater samples from these six other Western U.S. cities were similar to water-quality data for the stormwater samples from the Albuquerque outfalls. Median concentrations for suspended solids, total phosphorus, and bacteria (E. coli and fecal coliform) in stormwater samples from the Albuquerque outfalls, as a whole, were higher than those in samples from the other Western U.S. cities except for Las Vegas.

First posted May 12, 2015

For additional information, contact:
Director, New Mexico Water Science Center
U.S. Geological Survey
5338 Montgomery Blvd NE, Suite 400
Albuquerque, NM 87109

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Suggested citation:

Storms, E.F., Oelsner, G.P., Locke, E.A., Stevens, M.R., and Romero, O.C., 2015, Summary of urban stormwater quality in Albuquerque, New Mexico, 2003–12: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2015–5006, 48 p.,

ISSN 2328-0328 (online)




Stormwater Sampling Procedures

Laboratory Methods

Quality Assurance of Urban Stormwater Data

Data Analysis Methods

Data Summary

Comparison of Quality of Albuquerque Urban Stormwater With That of Stormwater From Other Western U.S. Cities


References Cited

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Page Last Modified: Tuesday, May 12, 2015, 11:29:38 AM