Approximately 40 percent (about 600,000 people) of the total
population of New Mexico lives within the Middle Rio Grande Basin,
which includes the City of Albuquerque. Ongoing analyses
of the central portion of the Middle Rio Grande Basin by the U.S.
Geological Survey (USGS) in cooperation with the City of
Albuquerque and other cooperators have shown that ground water in
the basin is not as readily accessible as earlier studies
indicated. A more complete characterization of the ground-water
resources of the entire Middle Rio Grande Basin is hampered by a
scarcity of data in the northern and southern areas of the basin.
The USGS Middle Rio Grande Basin Study is a 5-year effort by
the USGS and other agencies to improve the understanding of the
hydrology, geology, and land-surface characteristics of the Middle
Rio Grande Basin. The primary objective of this study is to improve
the understanding of the water resources of the basin. Of
particular interest is to determine the extent of hydrologic
connection between the Rio Grande and the Santa Fe Group aquifer.
Additionally, ground-water quality affects the availability of
water supplies in the basin. Improving the existing USGS-
constructed ground-water flow model of the Middle Rio Grande Basin
will integrate all the various tasks that improve our knowledge of
the various components of the Middle Rio Grande water budget. Part
of this improvement will be accompanied by extended knowledge of
the aquifer system beyond the Albuquerque area into the northern
and southern reaches of the basin. Other improvements will be based
on understanding gained through process-oriented research and
improved geologic characterization of the deposits. The USGS will
study the hydrology, geology, and land-surface characteristics of
the basin to provide the scientific information needed for water-
resources management and for managers to plan for water supplies
needed for a growing population.
To facilitate exchange of information among the many USGS
scientists working in the Middle Rio Grande Basin, yearly technical
meetings are planned for the anticipated 5-year study. These
meetings provide an opportunity to present research results and
plan new field efforts. This report documents the results of
research presented at the first technical workshop held in Denver,
Colorado, in November 1996.
The report is organized into this introduction, five chapters
that focus on USGS investigations in progress in the Middle Rio
Grande Basin, and three appendixes with supplemental information.
The first chapter provides an overview of the USGS program in the
basin. The second chapter describes geographic data and analysis
efforts in the basin. The third chapter details work being done on
the hydrogeologic framework of the basin. The fourth chapter
describes studies on ground-water availability in the basin and is
divided into three areas of research: ground-water/surface-water
interaction, ground-water flow and aquifer properties, and
recharge. The fifth chapter is devoted to an overview of New Mexico
District Cooperative Program studies in the basin. Finally, the
appendixes list publications and presentations made during the
first year of the study and 1996 workshop attendees. The report
concludes with a list of selected references relevant to the study.
The information in this report presents preliminary results of
an evolving study. As the study progresses and individual projects
publish their results in more detail, the USGS hopes to expand the
scientific basis needed for management decisions regarding the
Middle Rio Grande Basin.