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Dynamic Simulation Modeling of Groundwater Basins in the Upper Rio Grande Basin, Colorado-New Mexico

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Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/1928/10487

Dynamic Simulation Modeling of Groundwater Basins in the Upper Rio Grande Basin, Colorado-New Mexico

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Title: Dynamic Simulation Modeling of Groundwater Basins in the Upper Rio Grande Basin, Colorado-New Mexico
Author: Parrish, Jules Campbell
Subject(s): Upper Rio Grande (URG) Basin
Albuquerque-Belen Basin
Rio Grande Compact
San Luis Basin
Española Basin
Abstract: The Upper Rio Grande (URG) groundwater model is a compartmental model based on linear reservoir theory and mass conservation. It was developed using Powersim Studio® 2001 and 2003 software to demonstrate dynamic simulation of subsurface flow in the basin. The URG Basin is an area of approximately 8700 square miles. The model examines the basin from the headwaters of the Rio Grande in Colorado to the river’s point of delivery at Elephant Butte Reservoir in New Mexico. The sub-basins evaluated were the San Luis, Española, Santo Domingo, and Albuquerque-Belen Basins. Although uniformity varies within regions, individual groundwater basins were divided by unconfined and confined aquifers, and lumped parameters were calculated or averaged within these subsystems. The groundwater model evaluates flow between the unconfined and confined aquifers within individual basins as well as flow between basins. Recharge to the system is through precipitation, agricultural return flows, and subsurface flow from one basin to another. Discharges from the system are evapotranspiration, groundwater pumping, and surface and subsurface discharge. The model was successfully calibrated to match given water budget data. In general, unconfined or water table aquifers were more sensitive to pumping than confined aquifer reservoirs, with the exception of the Albuquerque-Belen Basin confined aquifer, which was significantly depleted by groundwater withdrawal over the thirty-year period of the model run. In the base model, the San Luis Basin unconfined aquifer’s volume declined by over 40%, with limited decline in the confined aquifer. The Española Basin unconfined aquifer diminished by 18% over the thirty-year run, while the confined aquifer experienced little effect. The Albuquerque-Belen Basin unconfined aquifer experienced a limited effect, while the confined aquifer volume decreased by 7%. The model also demonstrates the effects on the URG’s groundwater resources in response to dramatic changes in precipitation or severe sustained drought. Variation in average precipitation values between low and high values affected the Albuquerque-Belen Basin unconfined aquifer volume by 400,000 acre-feet over the thirty-year run period while having no effect on the confined aquifer. The model also evaluates aquifer response to increases in pumping, specifically in the Albuquerque-Belen Basin over the next thirty years due to increases in population growth. Variation in pumping in the Albuquerque-Belen Basin affected the unconfined aquifer volume by over 2 million acre-feet (maf) over thirty years between the low and high values, and 1 to 3 maf difference in final values overall. The difference in final values for the confined aquifer reservoir volume between the 2000 and 2015 pumping levels was just over 2 maf. Overall, pumping in the confined aquifer over the thirty-year run caused a decline of 7.5 maf.
Date: 2010-04-29
Series: Publication (University of New Mexico. Water Resources Program) ; no. WRP-15
Description: This publication is the Professional Project report of Jules Campbell Parrish, submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the Master of Water Resources degree at the University of New Mexico (August 2005).
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/1928/10487

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