Evaluation of Available Saline Water Resources for the Construction of Large Scale Microalgae Production Facilities in New Mexico
The major objective of the research was to select potential sites for l,000-hectare (2,470 acre) microalgae production facilities in New Mexico using saline water resources. The emphasis of the research was twofold.
First, a data base was created with respect to the Solar Energy Research Institute (SERI) criteria for location of microalgae production facilities in New Mexico. Specific criteria included location, depth-to-water, aquifer characteristics, saturated thickness of aquifers, salinity, ionic composition, well-yields, growing season, topography, and land ownership.
Second, the data base was digitized for map construction. The desirable water supply for algae culture was limited to moderately or more saline groundwaters (3000 mg/l total dissolved solids or greater), because of the existing societal demands for the limited supply of better quality water.
After a review of the location of the 15 billion acre-feet of saline water resources in the state, areas that appeared to generally meet the SERI criteria for site selection were narrowed to the following–the Tularosa Basin in south-central New Mexico, the Estancia Basin in central New Mexico, the San Juan Basin in northwestern New Mexico, the Tucumcari area in Quay County on the eastside of New Mexico, the area east of the Pecos River Basin in eastern New Mexico, and the Crow Flats area in southern New Mexico.
A detailed analysis was completed for the six locations. Three basins were eliminated for failing to meet all the criteria developed for the study – Pecos Basin, San Juan Basin and the Tucumcari Area. Of the remaining basins, the Tularosa was judged best suited for a microalgae production facility, Crow Flats, the next best, and Estancia, the poorest of the three choices because of a short growing season.
The reserves of saline waters ranging from 2.3 million acre-feet to 5.0 million acre-feet were identified for the large-scale microalgae production areas in the Mexico.