American Society of Civil Engineers


River Hydrograph Retransmission Functions of Irrigated Valley Surface Water–Groundwater Interactions


by Alexander G. Fernald, (corresponding author), (Associate Professor, New Mexico State Univ., Las Cruces, NM 88003 E-mail: fernald@nmsu.edu), S. Yeliz Cevik, S.M.ASCE; formerly, Graduate Research Assistant, New Mexico State Univ., Las Cruces, NM 88003. E-mail: ycevik@elmontgomery.com, Carlos G. Ochoa, (Research Specialist, New Mexico State Univ., Las Cruces, NM 88003. E-mail: carochoa@nmsu.edu), Vincent C. Tidwell, (Hydrologist, Sandia National Laboratories, P.O. Box 5800, MS 0735, Albuquerque, NM 87185. E-mail: vctidwe@sandia.gov), J. Phillip King, (Associate Professor, New Mexico State Univ., Las Cruces, NM 88003. E-mail: jpking@nmsu.edu), and Steven J. Guldan, (Professor, New Mexico State Univ., P.O. Box 159, Alcalde, NM 87511. E-mail: sguldan@nmsu.edu)

Journal of Irrigation and Drainage Engineering, Vol. 136, No. 12, December 2010, pp. 823-835, (doi:  http://dx.doi.org/10.1061/(ASCE)IR.1943-4774.0000265)

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Document type: Journal Paper
Abstract: Storage and release functions of western U.S. traditional river valley irrigation systems may counteract early and rapid spring river runoff associated with climate variation. Along the Rio Grande in northern New Mexico, we instrumented a 20-km-long irrigated valley to measure water balance components from 2005 to 2007. Hydrologic processes of the system were incorporated into a system dynamics model to test scenarios of changed water use. Of river water diverted into an earthen irrigation canal system, some was consumed by crop evapotranspiration (7.4%), the rest returned to the river as surface return flow (59.3%) and shallow groundwater return flow that originated as seepage from canals (12.1%) and fields (21.2%). The modeled simulations showed that the coupled surface water irrigation system and shallow aquifer act together to store water underground and then release it to the river, effectively retransmitting river flow until later in the year. Water use conversion to nonirrigation purposes and reduced seepage from canals and fields will likely result in higher spring runoff and lower fall and winter river flow.


ASCE Subject Headings:
Aquifers
Hydrologic models
Hydrogeology
Irrigation systems
Surface water
Groundwater
Groundwater recharge
Rio Grande

Author Keywords:
River-aquifer interaction
Hydrology
Hydrologic models
Hydrogeology
Irrigation systems
Surface water
Groundwater
Groundwater recharge
Rio Grande