In Taos County, ground water generally is unconfined and moves toward the Rio Grande or perennial streams. Water quality is good except in some areas where water has high values of specific conductance and hardness and contains high concentrations of dissolved solids and fluoride. Most wells are completed in alluvial sediments of Quaternary and Tertiary age in the Costilla Plains. A few wells are completed in basalt of the Taos Plateau and in alluvium of stream channels in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. Depths to water in wells range from less than 1 to 1,080 feet below land surface. Well yields range from 1 to 3,000 gallons per minute. Water levels in wells in Sunshine Valley dropped 5 to 50 feet between 1955 and 1970. Ground-water irrigation has since declined and water levels have risen. Surface-water records show the county is a net producer of water. The average discharge gained in the Rio Grande as it flows through the county was 271,700 acre-feet per year for water years 1931-89. The highest mean monthly discharge occurs in May or June due to snowmelt runoff. Water quality ranges from good in upstream reaches to fair in lower reaches. Surface water was the source for 93 percent of water withdrawn in 1990, but ground water was used for all public supply, domestic, and industrial purposes. The largest water use is irrigation. About 28,500 acres were irrigated in 1990; alfalfa, native pasture, and planted pasture accounted for 91 percent of this acreage.