Brackish Water Assessment in the Eastern Tularosa Basin, New Mexico - Open-file Report 582

Communities in the Tularosa Basin, including Tularosa and Alamogordo, face serious challenges related to water resources, both in terms of water quantity and quality. An arid climate, limited surface water as streams or rivers, variable groundwater quality, and projected population increases make water resource management in the Tularosa Basin challenging. Groundwater accounts for approximately 70% of all water use in the area, including irrigation, domestic use, and public supply. It has been estimated that less than four percent of groundwater in the Tularosa Basin is fresh with total dissolved solids (TDS) of less than 1,000 milligrams per liter (mg/L). Most public supply wells pump relatively fresh water from very localized zones located on the eastern margin of the basin at the base of the Sacramento Mountains.

Plans to pump and desalinate brackish water (1,000–10,000 mg/L TDS) for public water supply for Alamogordo are in development. There are concerns about the effect of pumping large quantities of brackish water on the water quality for multiple other users. To evaluate the potential impacts of pumping brackish water on existing water resources, it is necessary to know the spatial distribution of groundwater salinity. This report describes recent efforts by the New Mexico Bureau of Geology and Mineral Resources (NMBGMR) to assess the spatial distribution of groundwater salinity in the Tularosa Basin. The objectives of this study were to:

Compile and review existing water chemistry data in the area to assess the spatial distribution of groundwater salinity Collect up to 30 water quality samples to address spatial and temporal data gaps Using all data, provide an assessment of fresh and brackish water resources Suggest future research to improve understanding of groundwater salinity in the Tularosa Basin

Data and Resources


Field Value
Division Hydrogeology
Subdivision Aquifer Mapping Program
Contact Name Talon Newton
Contact Email [email protected]
Contact Phone 575-835-5490
Publication Date 2016-06-01
Data Collection Frequency One-time
Data Publishing Method website, print
Data Publishing Frequency One-time
Version 1.0
Geographic Location Otero County
Data Source NMBGMR
Last Updated 25 November 2023
Published 18 May 2023