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eNews June 2017

Meet the Researcher: Dr. Alex Rinehart, New Mexico Bureau of Geology and Mineral Resources

To date, he and his team at the Bureau have completed estimates for most of the Rio Grande and neighboring closed extensional basins, the upper Pecos watershed, the Rio Puerco and tributary watersheds, the Ogallala Formation aquifers underlying the Southern High Plains, and the Pecos Slope and Pecos valley from Roswell to Artesia. The primary results of this work highlight the importance of balancing groundwater use with recharge. Much of New Mexico has seen large (millions of acre-feet) storage declines in the last 60 years, with some decades seeing storage declines by as much as three million acre-feet, leading to immediate water supply and/or legal concerns. However, in regions where the groundwater resources have been managed at the basin-scale, or where use is balanced by recharge from rivers or mountain blocks, some large aquifers, like the Albuquerque basin, have stabilized or even slightly rebounded.

Alex recently said, “This work highlights the importance of historical and current monitoring of our groundwater resources. Many regions of the state have lost groundwater level monitoring coverage due to funding constraints, and much of the state simply does not have the historical well coverage to perform the analysis. To know where we are and where we are going with groundwater in New Mexico, it is vital to support long-term groundwater level monitoring efforts.”