Past Participant Survey
Challenge Team Interim Report
Team Number: 013
School Name: Bosque School
Area of Science: Environmental Science
Project Title: Evaluating the Sustainability of the Albuquerque Water Supply
Water is a very precious resource in the arid climate of New Mexico.
A recent headline in the Albuquerque Journal proclaimed
"City Reaches Deeper for Water -- As Aquifer Drops, Eyes Turn to River."
The accompanying story stated "New research shows ground-water levels
declining up to 2 feet a year in some parts of Albuquerque."
Because of this, we severely need to keep a watch on water use
and apply water conservation plans along with water management plans.
Water management is an issue that seriously needs to be addressed.
Conservation would be more effective if people know more about the issue and its severity. With the right mixture of water conservation
and management, we can create a stable water supply.
To address some of these issues, our project is to create a model of the
Albuquerque water system that functions the same way as the actual system.
The model will include factors such as aquifer recharge, the city's water
removal from the aquifer, rainfall, population growth, and the use of the
San Juan/Chama water. We will run this model with different combinations of management plans. This will allow us to test the proposed water conservation
and management plans to predict their effectiveness.
To build this model, we will need a basic understanding of the workings of water. For example, we will need to know how water is measured (acre-feet),
things specific to our aquifer, how water is recharged and discharged, how much
we owe to other places downstream, how much we use, etc. When we know our model
is valid, we will apply these plans to it and compare the managed levels to the unmanaged.
This will test our hypothesis that the water management and conservation plans can
slow if not stop the decline in the level of the aquifer.
Progress to Date:
Since we began working on our project in August, we have done much research
towards creating and validating our model. We have gathered historical data
pertaining to how much water is used by the City of Albuquerque and how that
water is used. We have population growth data and projections, as well as data about the water system itself. This includes rainfall, water depth, and the type of aquifer that is in the system. Moreover, we have learned about how groundwater and aquifers work. We know that
the aquifer that Albuquerque has a sand and gravel unconsolidated alluvial aquifer.
Also, we know how the hydrologic cycle happens and affects changes in the dynamics of the water system. We have also acquired a list of contacts that work with the United
States Geological Survey (USGS), the State Engineering Department, and the City of Albuquerque's Public Works Department - Water Resources Division.
In making these contacts, we have learned about the City's management plans and their implementation. An example of these plans is to use gray water to water the
golf courses and to use river water for human consumption.
Plans can be implemented to help save water.
Population limits, and implementation of very strict water laws are some very extreme
ways to control how much water is used. Using our model, we will test the City of
Albuquerque's water management plans and see how they affect the Albuquerque water
supply. Our expected results are a series of easy to understand water data in a two dimensional array. This output data can then be imported into graphing software to
produce data plots. By running scenarios using different water management methods,
we will be able to predict if these management methods are effective, as we need to
ensure that our water supply will be sustainable.