Water Resources Professional Project Reports


Jan M. Curtis

Document Type

Technical Report

Publication Date



Bluewater creek, a spatially intermittent headwater stream and one of the main tributaries to Bluewater Lake, is located in the Zuni Mountains in Cibola National Forest approximately 100 miles west of Albuquerque, New Mexico. Annual peak discharge occurs during the spring snowmelt runoff in March and April. Average annual discharge for Bluewater Creek for the period 1989 through 2000 is approximately 9.5 cubic feet per second. The Bluewater Creek sub-watershed has a drainage area of approximately 54,300 acres (84 square miles). Watershed elevation ranges from 6650 to 9240 feet above sea level with a mean elevation of 8020 feet. Annually, precipitation varies across the watershed from approximately 12 to 23 inches. Land use history includes railroad logging (1800s-early 1900), uncontrolled grazing, and the removal of beaver dams. USDA Forest Service acquisition occurred in the 1940s followed by riparian area restoration in the 1980s. Today, watershed improvement is directed towards managed recreation and controlled grazing. A surface water-groundwater interaction study was conducted along a 4 mile reach of Bluewater Creek. Hydrogeochemical findings were based on water quality measurements, groundwater elevation (30 piezometers in nests) and water temperature data. Water quality results demonstrate connectivity between the shallow alluvial aquifer and surface water. Geochemical analysis demonstrates spatial and temporal differences. Losing-gaining stream segments were identified from the groundwater elevation data and utilized to further quantify surface water-groundwater exchanges. Impairments to designated use (coldwater fishery) include temperature.

Language (ISO)



Bluewater Creek, Watershed restoration, Surface water, Groundwater, Water quality


A Professional Project submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Water Resources, Water Resources Program, University of New Mexico.