Possible changes in ground-water flow to the Pecos River caused by Santa Rosa Lake, Guadalupe County, New Mexico

Water-Resources Investigations Report 85-4291




In 1980 Santa Rosa Dam began impounding water on the Pecos River about 7 miles north of Santa Rosa, New Mexico, to provide flood control, sediment control, and storage for irrigation. Santa Rosa Lake has caused changes in the groundwater flow system, which may cause changes in the streamflow of the Pecos River that cannot be detected at the present streamflow gaging stations. Data collected at these stations are used to measure the amount of water available for downstream users. A three-dimensional groundwater flow model for a 950 sq mi area between Anton Chico and Puerto de Luna was used to simulate the effects of Santa Rosa Lake on groundwater flow to a gaining reach of the Pecos River for lake levels of 4,675, 4,715, 4,725, 4,750, 4,776, and 4,797 feet above sea level and durations of impoundment of 30, 90, 182, and 365 days for all levels except 4 ,797 feet. These simulations indicated that streamflow in the Pecos River could increase by as much as 2 cu ft/sec between the dam and Puerto de Luna if the lake level were maintained at 4 ,797 feet for 90 days or 4,776 feet for 1 year. About 90% of this increased streamflow would occur < 0.5 mi downstream from the dam, some of which would be measured at the streamflow gaging station located 0.2 mile downstream from the dam. Simulations also indicated that the lake will affect groundwater flow such that inflow to the study area may be decreased by as much as 1.9 cu ft/sec. This water may leave the Pecos River drainage basin or be diverted back to the Pecos River downstream from the gaging station near Puerto de Luna. In either case, this quantity represents a net loss of water upstream from Puerto de Luna. Most simulations indicated that the decrease in groundwater flow into the study area would be of about the same quantity as the simulated increase in streamflow downstream from the dam. Therefore, the net effect of the lake on the flow of the Pecos River in the study area appears to be negligible. Model simulations indicated that effect of lake levels below 4 ,750 feet on water levels in observation wells completed in the San Andres Limestone could not be distinguished from the effects of other hydrologic stresses. (Author 's abstract)

Additional publication details

Publication type:
Publication Subtype:
USGS Numbered Series
Possible changes in ground-water flow to the Pecos River caused by Santa Rosa Lake, Guadalupe County, New Mexico
Series title:
Water-Resources Investigations Report
Series number:
Year Published:
U.S. Geological Survey,
viii, 79 p. :ill., maps ;28 cm.