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Scientific Investigations Report 2015–5082

Prepared in cooperation with the New Mexico Water Resources Research Institute

Assessment of Statewide Annual Streamflow in New Mexico, 1985–2013

By Joseph A. Affinati and Nathan C. Myers

Thumbnail of and link to report PDF (18.7 MB)Abstract

In 2014, the New Mexico Water Resources Research Institute began a statewide assessment of the water resources of New Mexico. The U.S. Geological Survey, in cooperation with the New Mexico Water Resources Research Institute, addressed the streamflow component of the assessment by examining streamgage data for major river basins and streams in New Mexico for the study period over water years 1985–2013 (all references to years in this report are to water years).

Overall, the total annual inflow to and outflow from New Mexico generally decreased over the study period. The highest annual flows for the Rio Grande occurred in 1985–87, and except at the Rio Grande below Elephant Butte Dam, N. Mex. (08361000), and Rio Grande at El Paso, Texas (08364000), streamgages, the lowest flows occurred in 2002–03. Reaches from the Colorado-New Mexico State line southward to Los Alamos, N. Mex. (reaches RG–1 through RG–4), were all gaining reaches. Based on mean annual streamflow during the study period, reaches from Los Alamos (reach RG–5) southward to El Paso (reach RG–9) were all losing reaches except for the Socorro, N. Mex., reach (reach RG–7). From 1985 to 1995, annual flows in the Red River generally were above the mean annual streamflow, but after 1995, annual flows were more frequently below the mean annual streamflow. The Rio Hondo, Rio Pueblo de Taos, and Jemez River followed similar annual trends as the Red River, but to a lesser extent, over the study period.

Over the study period, annual flows in the Rio Chama generally increased downstream, and after 1995, the frequency of above average annual flows decreased, and below average flows became more frequent. The Rio Chama reaches were gaining in most of the years from 1985 to 2013. The Rio Puerco annual flows, at both of the streamgages on this stream, generally decreased after 2000. Reach RP–1 was a gaining reach for 24 years of the study period.

In general, Pecos River annual flows decreased substantially from the mean annual streamflow after 2000. The greatest gain on the Pecos River was estimated for the reach below Lake Sumner (reach PEC–5), which had gains in all 29 years of the study, whereas the reach from Lake Avalon southward to Red Bluff Reservoir (reach PEC–9) had losses in all 29 years. The highest flows at all streamgages on the Rio Hondo occurred in 1987; high flows there have generally decreased since 1992. Reaches from Ruidoso to below Two Rivers Reservoir, reaches RH–1 and RH–2, were losing reaches for 16 years and 28 years, respectively, over the study period.

The San Juan River for the study period had some of the highest flows of any river in New Mexico, and flow on the river generally increased in the downstream direction. Annual flows at the Animas River streamgages were highly variable but after 1993, generally, tended to decrease. The extended periods of high flows on the Animas River seemed to end in 2000. Over the study period, the reach from the New Mexico border southward to Farmington, N. Mex. (reach ANI–1), generally was a losing reach except for 1987 and 1997. Annual flows at the La Plata River near Farmington, N. Mex. (09367500), streamgage generally were less than the annual inflow to the State at the La Plata River at Colorado–New Mexico State line (09366500) streamgage. Over the study period, the reach from the New Mexico border southward to Farmington (reach PLA–1) generally was a losing reach except for 1986, 1987, and 1993.

Prior to 1999, annual flows at Canadian River streamgages varied above and below average, but after 1999, annual flows generally were below average. The Canadian River reaches, below the confluence of the Cimarron River (reach CAN–1) and the Canadian River to Ute Reservoir (reach CAN–2), display that the upstream reach (reach CAN–1) was a gaining reach for all 29 water years but that the downstream reach (reach CAN–2) was a losing reach for all years except 2003. Annual flows for the Cimarron River varied above and below average until 1999 and then generally were below average through 2013. The Cimarron River reach, below Eagle Nest Lake to about halfway to the confluence with the Canadian River (reach CIM–1), generally was a gaining reach except for 1996, 2002, 2011, and 2013.

Gila River annual flows varied above and below average until 2005 and thereafter generally were below average. Over the study period, the reach from the Gila River near Gila, N. Mex. (09430500), streamgage to the Gila River below Blue Creek, near Virden, N. Mex. (09432000), streamgage (reach GIL–1) was a gaining reach for all years except 1990 and 2013, while the reach from the Gila River below Blue Creek, near Virden, N. Mex. (09432000), streamgage to the Gila River near Clifton, Ariz. (09442000), streamgage (reach GIL–2) was a losing reach for all years with data except 1999.

The San Francisco River annual flows were relatively high compared to other years in the study in 1985, 1991–93, 1995, and 2005 but were near or below average for the rest of the years of the study. Both reaches on the San Francisco River were gaining reaches for all 29 years of the study.

First posted June 23, 2015

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

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Suggested citation:

Affinati, J.A., and Myers, N.C., 2015, Assessment of statewide annual streamflow in New Mexico, 1985–2013: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2015–5082, 65 p., http://dx.doi.org/10.3133/sir20155082.

ISSN 2328-0328 (online)



Contents

Abstract

Introduction

Approach

Statewide Annual Streamflow, Gains, and Losses

Summary

References Cited

Appendixes


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