Criteria for the Identification of Potential Sites for Irrigation with Saline Waters in New Mexico
New Mexico is an arid state with major groundwater resources and a very large land-area. Approximately 30 to 40 percent of the state’s land-area would be suitable for irrigated agriculture if water were available. The problem is that 90 percent of the state’s groundwater reserves are characterized as “saline”.
Under the right conditions, saline water can be used in irrigated agriculture as an alternative to fresh water, as a supplement to a fresh water supply or in conjunction with better quality water. This last area holds the greatest promise for New Mexico. The combined planned and scheduled use of saline and fresh waters to irrigate common regional crops shows promise. This report is directed at identifying criteria for the selection of appropriate sites. The Tularosa Basin is used as an example area to test the criteria developed with appropriate land areas identified where the conjunctive use of fresh and slightly saline water is possible. Several other areas in the state also are identified where conjunctive use probably can be conducted without severe adverse environmental effects.