Precipitation; ground-water age; ground-water nitrate concentrations, 1995-2002; and ground-water levels, 2002-03 in Eastern Bernalillo County, New Mexico

Scientific Investigations Report 2004-5189

Prepared in cooperation with Bernalillo County



The eastern Bernalillo County study area consists of about 150 square miles and includes all of Bernalillo County east of the crests of the Sandia and Manzanita Mountains. Soil and unconsolidated alluvial deposits overlie fractured and solution-channeled limestone in most of the study area. North of Interstate Highway 40 and east of New Mexico Highway 14, the uppermost consolidated geologic units are fractured sandstones and shales. Average annual precipitation at three long-term National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration precipitation and snowfall data-collection sites was 14.94 inches at approximately 6,300 feet (Sandia Ranger Station), 19.06 inches at about 7,020 feet (Sandia Park), and 23.07 inches at approximately 10,680 feet (Sandia Crest). The periods of record at these sites are 1933-74, 1939-2001, and 1953-79, respectively. Average annual snowfall during these same periods of record was 27.7 inches at Sandia Ranger Station, 60.8 inches at Sandia Park, and 115.5 inches at Sandia Crest. Seven precipitation data-collection sites were established during December 2000-March 2001. Precipitation during 2001-03 at three U.S. Geological Survey sites ranged from 66 to 94 percent of period-of-record average annual precipitation at corresponding National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration long-term sites in 2001, from 51 to 75 percent in 2002, and from 34 to 81 percent during January through September 2003. Missing precipitation records for one site resulted in the 34-percent value in 2003. Analyses of concentrations of chlorofluorocarbons CFC-11, CFC-12, and CFC-113 in ground-water samples from nine wells and one spring were used to estimate when the sampled water entered the ground-water system. Apparent ages of ground water ranged from as young as about 10 to 16 years to as old as about 20 to 26 years. Concentrations of dissolved nitrates in samples collected from 24 wells during 2001-02 were similar to concentrations in samples collected from the same wells during 1995, 1997, and (or) 1998. Nitrate concentrations in two wells were larger than the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency primary drinking-water regulation of 10 milligrams per liter in 1998 and in 2001. Ground-water levels were measured during June and July 2002 and during June, July, and August 2003 in 18 monitoring wells. The median change in water level for all 18 wells was a decline of 2.03 feet.

Additional publication details

Publication type:
Publication Subtype:
USGS Numbered Series
Precipitation; ground-water age; ground-water nitrate concentrations, 1995-2002; and ground-water levels, 2002-03 in Eastern Bernalillo County, New Mexico
Series title:
Scientific Investigations Report
Series number:
Year Published:
U.S. Geological Survey
Publisher location:
Reston, VA
Contributing office(s):
Utah Water Science Center
iv, 36 p.
United States
New Mexico
Bernalillo County