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Spatial patterns and temporal variability in water quality from City of Albuquerque drinking-water supply wells and piezometer nests, with implications for the ground-water flow system

Water-Resources Investigations Report 2001-4244

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Abstract

Water-quality data for 93 City of Albuquerque drinking-water supply wells, 7 deep piezometer nests, and selected additional wells were examined to improve understanding of the regional ground-water system and its response to pumpage. Plots of median values of several major parameters showed discernible water-quality differences both areally and with depth in the aquifer. Areal differences were sufficiently large to enable delineation of five regions of generally distinct water quality, which are consistent with areas of separate recharge defined by previous investigators. Data for deep piezometer nests indicate that water quality generally degrades somewhat with depth, except in areas where local recharge influenced by evapotranspiration or contamination could be affecting shallow water. The orientations of the five water-quality regions indicate that the direction of ground-water flow has historically been primarily north to south. This is generally consistent with maps of predevelopment hydraulic heads, although some areas lack consistency, possibly because of differences in time scales or depths represented by water quality as opposed to hydraulic head. The primary sources of recharge to ground water in the study area appear to be mountain-front recharge along the Sandia Mountains to the east and the Jemez Mountains to the north, seepage from the Rio Grande, and infiltration through Tijeras Arroyo. Elevated concentrations of many chemical constituents in part of the study area appear to be associated with a source of water having large dissolved solids, possibly moving upward from depth. Hydraulic-head data for deep piezometer nests indicate that vertical head gradients differ in direction and magnitude across the study area. Hydraulic-head gradients are downward in the central and western parts of the study area and upward across much of the eastern part, except at the mountain front. Water-quality data for the piezometers indicate that the ground water is not well mixed, even in areas of large vertical gradients. Water levels in most piezometers respond to short-term variations in ground-water withdrawals and to the cumulative effect of long-term withdrawals throughout the area. In most piezometers screened below the water table, water levels respond clearly to seasonal variations in ground-water withdrawals. Water levels decline from about April through July and rise from about September through January. Water levels seem to be declining in most piezometers at a rate less than 1 foot per year. Water-quality data for unfiltered samples collected over a 10-year period from 93 City of Albuquerque drinking-water supply wells were examined for variability and temporal trends in 10 selected parameters. Variability generally was found to be greatest in the Western and Northeast water-quality regions of the study area. For the 10 parameters investigated, temporal trends were found in 5 to 57 wells. Dissolved-solids, sodium, sulfate, chloride, and silica concentrations showed more increasing than decreasing trends; calcium, bicarbonate, and arsenic concentrations, field pH, and water temperature showed more decreasing than increasing trends. The median magnitudes of most of these trends over a 1-year period were not particularly large (generally less than 1.0 milligram per liter), although the magnitudes for a few individual wells were significant. For the 10 parameters investigated, correlations with monthly pumpage volumes were found in 10 to 32 wells. Calcium and sulfate concentrations, field pH, and water temperature showed more positive than negative correlations with monthly pumpage; dissolved-solids, sodium, bicarbonate, chloride, silica, and arsenic concentrations showed more negative than positive correlations. An increase in pumpage in an individual well appears to increase the contribution

Additional Publication Details

Publication type:
Report
Publication Subtype:
USGS Numbered Series
Title:
Spatial patterns and temporal variability in water quality from City of Albuquerque drinking-water supply wells and piezometer nests, with implications for the ground-water flow system
Series title:
Water-Resources Investigations Report
Series number:
2001-4244
Edition:
-
Year Published:
2002
Language:
ENGLISH
Description:
101 p.