Characterizing Brackish Water in New Mexico

Wednesday, February 24, 2016: 4:15 p.m.
Stacy Timmons , NM Bureau of Geology and Mineral Resources, Socorro, NM
Jeri Sullivan-Graham , Los Alamos National Lab and NM Energy Minerals and Natural Resources Department, Santa Fe, NM

Recurring severe droughts in New Mexico require consideration of non-traditional water resources, including brackish water. However, better characterization of this resource is needed. In New Mexico, brackish water resources have been cited for decades as extensive and readily available, with as much as 75% of the state’s groundwater estimated to be brackish or saline water. Brackish water resources (1000-10,000 ppm TDS) are largely found within regional basins, incorporating geology complicated by rift basin faulting, episodic volcanism, and extensive deformation. The diverse geology creates regional and local variability in water chemistry, as well as with depth. Complete and accurate datasets are required to promote research on water resources, across the various stratigraphic units and among fresh, brackish, and saline waters. The general goal of the Aquifer Mapping Program at the New Mexico Bureau of Geology and Mineral Resources is to characterize all of the state’s aquifers in terms of water quality, quantity, and distribution. Currently, we are undertaking a fundamental step in characterizing New Mexico’s brackish waters through a major water quality data compilation effort. In addition to our own data, the datasets and databases will incorporate data from the New Mexico Environment Department, the New Mexico Office of the State Engineer, the U.S. Geological Survey, municipalities, consultants, and researchers. Historic data that has previously only been available in printed reports is also being digitized and incorporated into these datasets. This effort will lead to improved water quality data availability for the state, identification of target regions for brackish water use based on geologic and hydrologic data, and improved understanding of possible interconnections of fresh and brackish water resources. These efforts also will shed light on spatial and chemical data gaps.

Stacy Timmons, NM Bureau of Geology and Mineral Resources, Socorro, NM
Stacy Timmons manages the Aquifer Mapping Program with the New Mexico Bureau of Geology and Mineral Resources at New Mexico Tech, in Socorro. Working with the Aquifer Mapping Program, she has been involved with several large-scale, long-term hydrogeologic studies focused on geologic influences on recharge, and groundwater movement and occurrence. She has worked in diverse locations over New Mexico, including San Agustin Plains, Magdalena, Tularosa Basin, Truth or Consequences hot springs district, La Cienega wetlands, and southern Sacramento Mountains. Timmons has B.S. and M.S. degrees in geology and has worked in hydrogeology for the Bureau of Geology since 2004.

Jeri Sullivan-Graham, Los Alamos National Lab and NM Energy Minerals and Natural Resources Department, Santa Fe, NM
Jeri Sullivan Graham is a senior scientist in the Chemistry Division at Los Alamos National Laboratory. She is a hydrogeologist and geochemist with 30 years of experience in environmental chemistry, groundwater hydrology, water treatment, systems modeling, and field studies. She currently is a science advisor to Secretary David Martin (New Mexico Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department) and coordinates the Brackish Water working group under the Governor’s Drought Task Force. Sullivan Graham is a certified professional geologist, with a B.S. from the University of Virginia, an M.S. from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and a Ph.D. from New Mexico Tech.