Forest Thinning to Increase Groundwater Recharge

Wednesday, February 24, 2016: 2:55 p.m.
Paul Davis , EnviroLogic Inc., Durango, CO
Sergey Pozdniakov , Faculty of Geology, Dept. of Hydrogeology, Moscow, Russia
Bill Fogleman , GRIT Inc., Albuquerque, NM
Daniel Rives , EnviroLogic Inc., Bernal, Argentina
Dave Davenport , Farmout, Tijeras, NM

The State of New Mexico’s first approved basin water plan, for the Estancia Basin, recognized the fact that the basin is running out of groundwater. The Estancia Basin Planning Committee proposed thinning trees in the upland forests as one of their major efforts to increase recharge by eliminating transpiration from juniper and pinyon trees. EnviroLogic Inc. was tasked with performing a combined field/modeling study to quantify the increase in recharge associated with thinning. The field site contained contrasting landscapes of a pinyon/juniper forest and an adjacent open meadow. Soil moisture and temperature monitoring in trenches and boreholes were combined with a site weather station that monitored air temperature, precipitation, solar radiation, and wind speed and direction. Continuous monitoring for several years detected no significant response of deep soil moisture to precipitation in either the forest or the meadow. Unsaturated zone modeling based on 100 years of simulated weather combined with soil properties taken from trench and borehole samples indicated no recharge during the simulation period for either the forest or the meadow. In summary, neither the experiment nor the modeling supported the assertion that forest thinning increases groundwater recharge.

Paul Davis, EnviroLogic Inc., Durango, CO
Paul Davis is a consulting geohydrologist who owns EnviroLogic Inc located in Durango, Colorado. He graduated from the University of New Mexico with a degree in geology and New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology with a degree in hydrology. Prior to starting EnviroLogic Inc., Mr. Davis worked at the US Geological Survey’s Water Resources Division in Albuquerque as well as at Sandia National Laboratories. Mr. Davis is currently a member of the United Kingdom’s Committee on Radioactive Waste Management and a consultant to the International Atomic Energy Agency.

Sergey Pozdniakov, Faculty of Geology, Dept. of Hydrogeology, Moscow, Russia
Sergey Pozdniakov is a member of the Faculty of Geology and Chair of the Department of Hydrogeology at Moscow State University in Russia.

Bill Fogleman, GRIT Inc., Albuquerque, NM

Daniel Rives, EnviroLogic Inc., Bernal, Argentina

Dave Davenport, Farmout, Tijeras, NM