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The Transboundary Aquifer Assessment Act: Program Objectives and Status. Dr. Karl Wood New Mexico Water Resources Research Institute Dr. Sharon Megdal Arizona Water Research Center Dr. Ari Michelsen Texas A&M Research Center at El Paso James Stefanov U.S. Geological Survey – Austin, Texas.

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The Transboundary Aquifer Assessment Act: Program Objectives and Status


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the transboundary aquifer assessment act program objectives and status

The Transboundary Aquifer Assessment Act: Program Objectives and Status

Dr. Karl Wood New Mexico Water Resources Research Institute

Dr. Sharon Megdal Arizona Water Research Center

Dr. Ari Michelsen Texas A&M Research Center at El Paso

James Stefanov U.S. Geological Survey – Austin, Texas

slide2

Problems?

  • Human population growth along US-Mexico border is among the highest nationally
  • Average per capita income is far below the U.S. average
  • Economic develop is restricted by lack of adequate water
  • Availability of water is a key issue in the U.S. – Mexico border region
  • Groundwater is used for all the drinking water in southern New Mexico, all of Juarez, and half of the El Paso area
  • Groundwater is probably the only source of new water as the drought continues and new desalting technology develops
slide3

Many questions concerning the aquifers remain:

  • How extensive are the aquifers?
  • How deep are the aquifers?
  • How thick are the aquifers?
  • Which directions are the aquifers flowing?
  • What is the quality of the aquifers at various depths?
  • How fast are they declining in supply and quality?
  • What is the long-term availability?
  • What is the relationship between surface supplies
  • and aquifer recharge?
border
border

Water Resources in the New Mexico Border Region

slide6

Mined basin with water-level drawdowns exceeding 250 feet

  • Sole source of water for Ciudad Juarez
  • Major source of water for El Paso
  • Quality generally <1,000 mg/L TDS, but deteriorating
  • Very little natural recharge
  • Extensive modeling in El Paso/Ciudad Juarez area
  • Artificial recharge program by El Paso
  • Water Use 2000:
  • El Paso = 126,420 acre-feet
  • Ciudad Juarez = 124,000 acre-feet
  • Distrito de Riego 009 = 57,000 acre-feet

Hueco Bolson

mesilla basin
Mesilla Basin
  • Largest rechargeable reservoir in region
  • Southern boundary in Mexico poorly defined
  • Connected with overlying semi- confined alluvium aquifer
  • Quality <1,000 mg/L TDS
  • Use: Domestic & Supplemental to Rio Grande for Irrigation
  • Quantity pumped = ?
  • Quantity in storage = ~60 million af - ?
  • Number of modeling efforts, none bi- national
the act
The Act
  • Conceived by Senator Jeff Bingaman of New Mexico from U.S. Senate field hearing in Las Cruces August 14, 2001
  • Authorization bill written by Senator Bingaman’s staff
  • Sponsored by Senator Bingaman of New Mexico and Co-Sponsored by Senator Domenici of New Mexico and Senator Kyl of Arizona
  • Supported by other Senators from Arizona and Texas
  • Passed U.S. Senate in 2005
the act continued
The Act continued
  • Sponsored in U.S. House by Congressman Kolbe

of Arizona and co-sponsored by Congressmen Grijalva of Arizona and Reyes of Texas in 2006

  • Supported by Congressmen from Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas
  • Not supported by Congressmen from California
  • Passed Congress in December 2006
  • Signed by President in December 2006
the act objectives
The Act - Objectives
  • Collect new and existing data
  • Improve existing and develop new computer models to:
    • Characterize transboundary aquifers for:
      • Horizontal extents
      • Depth to aquifers
      • Thickness of aquifers
      • Anomalies of aquifers
      • Water qualities of aquifers including salinity, nutrients, toxics, and pathogens
      • Movement of water in aquifers
      • Assess interaction with surface waters
      • Sources and amounts of depletion of aquifers
    • Develop high-quality, comprehensive, binational groundwater quantity and quality data bases
    • Develop hydrogeologic maps of both surficial and bedrock deposits
    • Apply the new data and models to evaluate strategies to protect water quality and enhance supplies.
the act some bumps
The Act – Some Bumps
  • International Boundary and Water Commission’s (IBWC) Commissioner supported the Act to gain information to write a groundwater treaty with Mexico
  • State Engineers in Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas opposed the bill because groundwater in U.S. belongs to the states and not to the federal government
  • IBWC backed off of treaty ambitions
  • State Engineers eventually supported the bill
  • California’s congressmen felt the information could complicate issues surrounding the All-American Canal
the act continued1
The Act continued
  • Bill was authorized for $5 million per year for 10 years
  • Appropriation now needed
  • Budget for 2007 is a continuing resolution
  • Budget request for 2008 is $2 million for startup
who gets the money
Who Gets The Money?
  • 50% to the Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas Water Resources Research Institutes to provide funding to appropriate entities including:
      • Universities
      • State agencies
      • The Tri-Regional Planning Group
      • Sandia National Laboratory
      • Other relevant organizations and entities in Mexico
  • 50% to the U.S. Geological Survey to work in partnership with the above organizations
priority aquifers
Priority Aquifers
  • Hueco Bolson – Texas, New Mexico, & Chihuahua
  • Mesilla Bolson - Texas, New Mexico, & Chihuahua
  • Santa Cruz River Valley – Arizona & Sonora
  • San Pedro Aquifer – Arizona & Sonora
  • Additional aquifers to be added i.e Mimbres, etc.
programs already started
Programs Already Started
  • Development of a bibliography in English and Spanish
  • Determining existing data sources, extent, & form
  • Developing a relationship Mexico’s new Office of Transboundary Basins established in the National Water Commission
  • Updating colleagues in:
    • International Boundary & Water Commission
      • U.S. Division
      • Mexico Division (CILA)
    • University of Ciudad Juarez
    • Juarez campus of Monterrey Tech
    • El Colegio de la Frontera Norte (COLEF)