Water Resources Professional Project Reports

Document Type


Publication Date

Spring 2021


Wetlands can hydrologically connect to nearby surface waters allowing for interaction with other landscape elements through spatial and temporal variation. The hydrologic connection of wetlands to surface waters is an important issue due to policies and regulations of the Clean Water Act (CWA) which emphasize the physical connection that wetlands have with nearby surface waters. The goal of this research was to quantify the hydrological connection of Sawyer Fen to a nearby Bluewater Creek in the Zuni Mountains, western New Mexico. Data were collected in the summer through the winter of 2019 at seven locations including Sawyer Fen, Bluewater Creek and adjacent springs. Physicochemical parameters (temperature, pH, total dissolved solids, specific conductivity), major ions (Ca, Mg, Na, K, Cl, HCO3 and ClSO4) and stable isotopes (δ 18O and δD) were collected to analyze wetland classification, seasonal variation, flow paths, and recharge mechanisms. Results from the physicochemical parameters of Sawyer Fen were indicative of a groundwater fed (rich-fen) wetland in the summer that transitioned to a rain fed (poor-fen) wetland. Hydrogeochemical analysis displayed similar ionic compositions among all locations at the study site with seasonal variability from Sawyer Fen and West Bank Spring and migration from calcium bicarbonate (Ca-Mg-HCO3) complex to chloride sulfate (Ca-Mg-Cl-SO4) complex. Stable isotopes showed recharge mechanisms for East Bank Spring proceeded from winter snowmelt while recharge to Sawyer Fen and West Bank Spring came from both winter snowpack and local precipitation. Sawyer Fen appears to be hydrologically connected to Bluewater Creek with seasonal alteration to the water chemistry due to local precipitation and flow paths.


hydrological connection, Sawyer Fen, Zuni Mountains, Physicochemical parameters