Water Quality Research: Rio Hondo

The Rio Hondo flows from the Taos Ski Valley in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains for about 20 miles where it meets the Rio Grande, and is one of NM EPSCoR’s primary research sites, with the Jemez River and the Rio Chama. Scientists and researchers from NMSU and NM Tech use state-of-the-art technology to study the interactions between groundwater and surface water to help determine water quality and water quantity. New Mexico EPSCoR researchers from New Mexico State University and New Mexico Tech traveled to one area of the Rio Hondo in Arroyo Hondo, NM to examine the water temperature and quality. Sam Fernald (NMSU), Carlos Ochoa (NMSU) and Jevon Harding (NMT) were just a few of those participating. One of the main purposes for the trip was to deploy the USGS Fiber Optic Distributed Temperature Sensor (DTS). The research DTS uses a laser light sent along a fiber-optic cable to collect accurate information. For this particular effort, researchers are interested in quantifying interactions of the mixture of groundwater and surface water, including in the region beneath the stream bed (called the hyporheic zone). First the DTS was deployed one mile upstream for approximately two hours, then redeployed downstream and allowed to collect data for 24 hours. The information collected is then sent to a specialized laptop computer, where our researchers and students can analyze the data for individual projects.